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Louise Farrenc, 19th century composer, returns to the sound


“They are written in a style that is both romantic and classical, with great thematic and harmonic originality, both poetic and energetic,” said conductor Laurence Equilbey, who released recordings of the Premiere this summer. and the Third with the Insula Orchestra and conduct the Third with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston on November 5th and 7th. “His music is not as avant-garde as that of Berlioz, for example, but it is so solidly constructed.

Craft was Farrenc’s hallmark, a brand she perfected in a surprisingly supportive environment. Born Jeanne-Louise Dumont in 1804, she comes from a line of court sculptors and grew up among resident artists at the Sorbonne. His brother Auguste’s “Spirit of Liberty” still crowns the Place de la Bastille.

Farrenc learned piano and music theory at the age of 6, under the tutelage of a godmother who studied with Muzio Clementi. At 15, she began private lessons with Anton Reicha, a friend of Beethoven who, as a professor at the Conservatory who forbade Farrenc to enter composition, also taught Berlioz, Liszt and César Franck.

She briefly interrupted these studies in 1821 to marry Aristide Farrenc, flautist and editor of some of the greatest composers of the time, including Beethoven. It was an unusually likable, if not rich, game. Aristide encouraged Louise to perform, partnered with her to organize fairs and other events that showcased her writing in the context of their common interests and, most importantly, published her works.

In keeping with the composer-virtuoso model of the time, Farrenc’s early piano pieces were rondos or sets of variations on popular and opera arias, but they were far from the ostentatious and fragile standard. His “Air Russe Varié”, from 1835, caught the attention of Robert Schumann, who praised his “delicious canonical games” in the spirit of Bach, and declared that “we must fall under their spell”.

Joanne Polk, professor at the Manhattan School of Music, released last year an excellent recording of “Air Russe” and half of Farrenc’s 30 Études, which, like Chopin’s of the same decade, are beyond the reach of their educational constraints.

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