Louse Farrenc violin and piano music has timeless appeal

This release presents three chamber works by Louise Farrenc. Farrenc was renowned as a pianist as well as a composer. These selections show her skill at writing for violin.

Daniele Orlando and Linda Di Carlo deliver wonderfully expressive performances. Farrenc had a rare melodic gift, and Orlando’s violin practically sings them. Farrenc was also a concert pianist.

Most of her chamber works have substantial piano parts. Di Carlo plays with assurance and authority, an equal partner to Orlando at every turn.

The album starts with the Variations concertantes sur un air suisse. This is salon music, meant as light entertainment. But it’s of exceptional quality. Schumann remarked it was “o sure in outline, so logical in development.” Indeed so. The music is light, but not cliche.

Her two violin and piano sonatas were also well-received at the time. Her first violin sonata from 1848 is a fully formed complex work. One critic noted it was in the “austere classical style reminiscent of the great masters.” To me, the sonata suggested Mendelssohn as inspiration.

Farrenc’s second sonata was a favorite of Joseph Joachim. Brahms would compose his violin concerto for Joachim, so high praise indeed! Here the inspiration seems closer to Beethoven. But what Farrenc does with that inspiration is purely her own invention.

It’s still a mystery to me that music this well-received should lapse into obscurity. There’s nothing old-fashioned about Farrenc’s compositions. They sound as fresh today as any music of “the great masters.” The excellent performances of Orlando and Di Carlo just deepen that mystery.

Highly recommended.

Louise Farrenc: Music for Violin and Piano
Daniele Orlando, violin; Linda Di Carlo, piano
Brilliant Classics 95922

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