The recording dates may suggest
a compilation of material previously released at different times
but this programme has been well put together. The Flower Clock
is a suite for oboe and orchestra in seven sections starting sleepily
at three o’clock in the morning and passing through the day to
nine at night. Francaix derived his inspiration for the work from
both literature and science. It is a captivating piece and Lajos
Lencsés (principal oboist of the Stuttgart orchestra) does it
full justice in a highly coloured reading which, to my surprise,
seems markedly preferable to both John de Lancie (the Philadelphia
Orchestra’s oboist for whom the work was written – available on
back order from ArchivMusic)
and John Anderson (on Nimbus, currently seems to be deleted).
Above all, time passes a little more quickly with Lencsés and
he never lets you forget this music is French. From early in the
digital era he is very well recorded and there is excellent support
from Uri Segal and the Stuttgart Orchestra.
The Cor Anglais
Quartet (the booklet persistently gives “English Horn”!) is
a work in similar and generally light-hearted vein. There are
five movements with the second and fourth at slower tempi. Lencsés
switches to the Cor Anglais and seems equally at home but he
is more closely recorded here. Thus there is some key noise
but not enough to spoil the party.
The trio for oboe,
bassoon and piano is the most substantial work here and a real
find. In places it is about as profound as Francaix gets in
my experience (not very). There are four movements with a slow
introduction to the first and scherzo placed second. The slow
movement has as melting a tune for the bassoon as you are likely
to hear and the finale’s jocularity delights the ear. In this
work the recording is excellent with a balance between instruments
which is just right.
The string quartet
is a slight, conventional and early work that I found less interesting
than its predecessors. The Parisii Quartet blend together well
and have to be on their mettle in the pizzicato laden scherzo.
My recent experience
of CPO’s documentation has not been altogether positive so it
is good to report that this aspect of the disc is well done
with quite substantial notes on each of the works.
is, as ever, undemanding and attractive. The Flower Clock
is essential listening for lovers of the oboe and this disc
contains the best performance I have yet heard. The companion
works are something of a mixed bag but the Trio is certainly
not to be missed.