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Variations symphoniques, for piano and orchestra (César Franck)

Date

1886

Text

Like several other French composers of the late nineteenth century, Franck sought to renew the concerto genre. Two scores for piano and orchestra testify to this: Les Djinns (1884) and the Variations symphoniques (1885). Édouard Colonne conducted the soloist Louis Diémer at the premiere of the latter work on 1 May 1886 at the Société Nationale de Musique. The Variations symphoniques are distinguished by the freedom of their treatment. In L’Œuvre pianistique de César Franck (1910), the pianist Alfred Cortot, a pupil of the dedicatee, Louis Diémer, describes their formal structure, consisting of “three different poetic states, whose succession ensures the development of the overall plan”. He details them in the following terms: “Each of them represents a group of variations with a distinct character that can be easily delineated. The first, clearly pathetic in feeling, leads us, in the form of an introduction, to the complete exposition of the theme by the piano, in other words to the Allegretto quasi andante. The second, the true musical core of the variations proper, extends from there to the finale, moving through the most eloquently expressive modes and passing from tender serenity to religious contemplation after a moment of enthusiasm. The third includes the finale, whose convincing, definitive accent of joy we have just mentioned.” If the piano stands out more than in Les Djinns, it never struggles with the orchestra. Often used to add colour, it avoids demonstrative virtuosity, even in the third part, whose jaunty freshness is surprising coming from Franck.

    Persons - 3
  • CORTOT, Alfred (1877-1962)
  • DIÉMER, Louis (1843-1919)
  • FRANCK, César (1822-1890)
  • Themes - 4
  • Concert – La Société nationale de musique
  • Concert – Les sociétés de concert au XIXe siècle
  • Courant – L’École franckiste
  • Genre – Le concerto en France au XIXe siècle