Francaix: Music for String Orchestra KERRY STRATTON
In order on the disc, the works are Symphonie d'Archets (Symphony for Strings) (1948), Ode sur 'La Naissance de Vénus' de Botticelli' (Ode on 'The Birth of Venus' by Botticelli) (1960), and a ballet, Die Kamelien: Pantomime für Schauspieler ('The Camellias': Pantomime for an Actor) (1950).
The 21-minute String Symphony, while expertly written, makes little impression on this reviewer. It is not one of Françaix's carefree jeux d'esprit, for which he is to well-known. Perhaps my lack of response is because much of the music either has vague tonality or is modal, and also because I much prefer music by Françaix that makes such ingenious use of the orchestra's winds which, of course, are absent here. Recorded sound seems a little thin at times.
The 5-minute Ode on Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' is altogether more enjoyable. Commissioned by RTF (French Radio & Television) for use in a program about the life and works of the early Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli, its hymnlike setting invokes a mood of quiet contemplation of and rapt absorption in the famous painting.
The 25-minute score of the ballet, The Camellias, based on Dumas's 'La Dame aux camélias', was written for and premièred by George Balanchine and his New York ballet company in 1951. This is its first recording.(excerpt Scott Morrison amazon reviewer). Conductor Kerry Stratton