This symphony’s as red as steak tartare, as rich as chocolate mousse

This symphony’s as red as steak tartare, as rich as chocolate mousse


norman lebrecht

June 19, 2020

It’s five stars on the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

…..  is as red-blooded as steak tartare and as rich as mousse au chocolat with extra chippings on top. You can smell from the opening phrase that the conductor really believes in the composer and the players will do what it takes to match his fervour. The great tune of the first movement is sing-out-loud-and-annoy-the-neighbours while the second-movement cor anglais solo is as catchy as anything Dvorak ever wrote (yes, even that one)…..

Read on here.

And here.



  • V.Lind says:

    Lucky old TSO — I hope he does do this with them. But I can assure you there is not a mountie in sight. I met bored RCMP chap at the ballet in Toronto once — he was there to guard a visiting member of the Royal family. I asked him of the RCMP could not have assigned someone who would have enjoyed the evening, and he turned to me and said, quite scandalised, “Oh, no, Madam. NO-ONE in the RCMP enjoys the ballet!” So I doubt their at home in lockdown making reeds and tuning their strings.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    There is an entire repertoire, it would seem, that seemed to be everywhere on radio and in concert when I started listening to music seriously – and at some point folded its tent and all but disappeared. These two works are prime examples (regardless of how you feel about them as music). I have not heard the Symphonic variations “live” since a (very good) student pianist won the chance the play a solo with our university orchestra.

    Another work one used to hear often on radio: Goldmark’s Rustic Wedding Symphony. I never had a chance to play it, or the Franck.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Ah, yes, the Rustic Wedding! There’s scarcely a more endearing work in the repertoire (or fringes of same). And it’s so full of earworms that it’s hard to understand why it’s not performed.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    If Franck’s Symphony has become a rarity in concert programming, his Symphonic Variations has disappeared entirely. And what a shame, too, as both are superb works.

  • Bone says:

    Really enjoyed this recommendation, NL. Interpretation and performance were wonderful.
    I can still remember some of the very early cd’s that featured Luxembourg or other small regional orchestras performing…not well. 40 years have certainly made a difference in orchestral standards.

  • IC225 says:

    A great, great symphony. So neglected!

  • Bruce says:

    In case anyone’s wondering: it’s the Franck D Minor, Luxembourg Symphony conducted by Gustavo Gimeno.

  • Bruce says:

    In my experience, the Franck can sound like a great piece when given a great performance. Sounds bombastic/ repetitive/ boring when done poorly.

    I always have a soft spot for pieces like that: they need the help, but they deserve it and repay it. Dvorak #5 is another, IMHO. (As compared to Beethoven #5 for example, which, if conducted by an idiot, sounds like a great masterpiece conducted by an idiot.)

  • Greg Bottini says:

    I’ve loved the Franck d minor since the first time I heard it on an LP of the Monteux / Chicago recording.
    I’ve stated my preferences on a previous blog posting, but I’ll reiterate: Toscanini / NBC (the all-time best), and ANY of Monteux’.
    I’ll add at this point, since I neglected to mention them before (sorry), Cantelli’s performance with NBC and Giulini’s with the Philharmonia. Both are beyond excellent.
    And as an amateur chef, I’d call this work much more of a coq au vin piece than a steak tartare piece.
    The chocolate mousse? Definitely post-concert, along with a nice port.

    • Christopher Breunig says:

      Turned to the CSO/Monteux after listening to Gimeno, with is quite decent bat cannot hold a candle to the former. And the recent NBC/Cantelli reissue, as you say, is also not to be missed. I guess the (New) Philharmonia/Giulini with Paul Crossley would stand as best rec. for this frequent coupling on CDs.