Heureux, l’intérêt dont jouit de nouveau une compositrice du talent de Louise Farrenc ! Pour le mélomane curieux, ce programme de musique de chambre avec vents ne renfermera guère de nouveautés mais les interprètes italiens le servent magnifiquement. La formule du Sextuor piano/Quintette à vents est rare. Celui de Louise Farrenc est même le premier du genre car Mozart s’était arrêté au quintette, tout comme Danzi et surtout Reicha, dont l’influence est ici prégnante. De fait, il faudra attendre Poulenc pour que soit rééditée l’expérience, pourtant parfaitement convaincante. Avec le Trio op. 44 pour clarinette, violoncelle et piano, Louise Farrenc est encore en avance sur son temps car si Beethoven s’y était essayé, c’est à d’Indy, Zemlinsky et surtout Brahms qu’il reviendra de populariser cette formation. Postérieur de près de 40 ans à celui de Weber, le Trio op. 45 fait dialoguer la flûte et le piano dans un modèle d’équilibre et de virtuosité. Parti en si bon chemin, l’éditeur nous aurait comblés en incluant le Nonette, chef d’œuvre de la compositrice. Mais, aux vents, il eût fallu adjoindre quelques cordes ! (Yves Kerbiriou)
Brilliant Classics already has one disc of Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) in its catalogue, which is one more than most recording companies. The Piano Quintets (BC94815) were an ear-opening discovery and delight for anyone interested in 19th-century chamber music; Farrenc’s originality is plain to hear, and in these works she developed the genre beyond what had seemed to be its Brahmsian apex. A more extensive opportunity is now offered to become acquainted with an aesthetic of great formal confidence and expressive delight, with these new recordings of Farrenc’s two piano trios and her Wind Sextet. The trios were frequently performed during the years after their composition in 1844, five years after the piano quintets. By this time she had been appointed Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatoire; the only woman in so senior a rank until the turn of the new century. Remarkably, the Sextet of 1851-2, foreshadowing Poulenc’s composition 80 years later, is the first instance of a work that combines the piano with a full wind complement of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon. All three works bear traces of neo-classical echoes of Hummel and Mendelssohn. If, from a structural point of view, they follow Classical models - sonataallegro or sonata-rondo form in the outer movements, framing an animated Scherzo and Trio (except for the Sextet, in only three movements) and a rhapsodic slow movement - his harmonic progressions are notably adventurous, often leading the listener into unexpected territory. The Sextet, in a dramatic C minor, is a muscular, concertante piece, in which the piano is as dominant as the piano quintets by Brahms and Schumann, but any momentary imbalance is soon overcome, and the equilibrium between the instruments is generally governed with extreme care. The tone of the two trios is more intimate and the conversation between instruments more delicate and mellow. Clarinet and cello are ideally matched by their dark colours (as can be noted in the soulful Adagio), whilst the Flute Trio, in a wistful E minor, is a rare example of a 19th-century chamber work featuring an instrument that by then was regarded primarily as a member of the symphony orchestra.