Record of the day: "Jean Françaix, music for wind instruments"

Record of the day: “Jean Françaix, music for wind instruments”

Ensemble Wien-Berlin
Jean Françaix: Music for wind instruments (Cd Camerata 580)

The composer Jean Françaix found himself in a singular position throughout his life. Beloved by performers (particularly those of wind instruments), he has been ignored or despised in a very violent way by critics, who have always considered him an easy musician and author of second-class jingles, probably due to the rejection that Françaix has opposed both to dodecaphony and to the avant-gardes derived from it, remaining obstinately faithful to an ideal of neoclassical clarity where the influences of Ravel, Stravinsky and Poulenc peep out.

His is fun music, written with skill and humour, characterized by a very notable performance difficulty due to the use of instrumental virtuosity pushed to the highest levels. An excellent pianist, Françaix wrote a lot for his instrument, but the best pages still remain those dedicated to his beloved wind instruments, to which he dedicated the majority of his very copious, almost hypertrophic production (he wrote every day and as soon as he finished a piece he began another immediately).
In reality, Françaix's musical personality had other strings to its bow besides brilliance, just think of the beautiful
oratorio “L'Apocalypse Selon St. Jean”, ignored in Italy but of notable expressive depth; yet few are still willing to take it seriously or give it more than a footnote.

Françaix, however, never cared too much about this, happy to have many performances and always enjoy success with the public. However one wishes to judge his scores, in any case he is a composer with a strong personality, immediately recognizable after a few bars (which is no small thing at all).
From the heights of his storm-free musical Parnassus, Françaix looked smiling at the succession of the various avant-garde factions with whom he never argued, knowing that Time would play on his side as in fact happened; even after his death, Françaix's scores continue to have a wide circulation (and to be ignored by critics).

This delightful album offers five excellently performed pieces for wind instruments (sometimes with the addition of piano) which will give you an hour of intelligent music that is much less naive than one would like you to believe.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.