Jean Françaix

His natural gifts were encouraged from an early age by his family: his father a musicologist, composer, and pianist, and his mother, a teacher of singing. He was only six when he took up composing, and his first publication, in 1922, caught the attention of a composer working for the publishing house who steered the gifted boy toward a gifted teacher, Nadia Boulanger. She encouraged Françaix's career, considering the young composer to one of the best, if not the best, of her students. Françaix himself often played his own works, to public acclaim; notably in the premier of his Concertino for Piano and Orchestra at the festival of Baden-Baden in 1932.He was an accomplished pianist from an early age, earning a First Prize in Piano at the Paris Conservatory (his only formal musical qualification) and was sought after for accompanying as well as solo performances. He performed notably in a duo with the French cellist Maurice Gendron, and also performed the Poulenc Two Piano Concerto with Francis Poulenc for several engagements when Jacques Fevrier was not available. His own Two Piano Concerto was written however for his daughters, both of whom were budding young pianists at the time of the composition.Jean Françaix's primary occupation was his extraordinarily active compositional career. He remained prolific throughout his life; even in 1981 he described himself as "constantly composing", barely finishing one piece before beginning another, and continued thus until his death in 1997.

Maurice Ravel said of the young Françaix to the boy's parents, "Among the child's gifts I observe above all the most fruitful an artist can possess, that of curiosity: you must not stifle these precious gifts now or ever, or risk letting this young sensibility wither." They did not, and he flourished: Françaix was a prolific composer, writing over 200 pieces in a wide variety of styles.Since he was a virtuoso pianist, many of his works feature the piano, particularly his numerous chamber works which he wrote for nearly every orchestral instrument and standard ensemble. He was a skilled orchestrator, which was reflected in his use of tone colors. Françaix wrote pieces in many of the major large musical forms, including concerti, symphonies, opera, theatre, ballet, and works drawing on traditions falling out of favor in the 20th century, such as the cantata. Though he often put his own modern spin on the old modes of expression, he was an avowed neoclassicist who rejected atonality and formless wanderings, and he drew from great literature of the past for his vocal settings. He also wrote ten film scores for director Sacha Guitry.
Françaix's style is marked by lightness and wit (a stated goal of his was to "give pleasure"), as well as a conversational style of interplay between the musical lines. It changed little throughout his career; while he was influenced by composers he admired (such as Emmanuel Chabrier, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Ravel, and Francis Poulenc), he integrated what he picked up into his own distinct aesthetic, which was already evident in his early works. (Wikipedia)

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1932 Concertino 4.00 stars LP
Concertino Comments:
Claude Françaix - Piano
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati
1932 Concertino 4.00 stars CD
Concertino Comments:
Re-release of the recording above

Claude Françaix - Piano
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antal Dorati

1932 Concertino 3.50 stars CD
Suite Comments:
Philippe Cassard - Piano
Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer
1933 Serenade for Orchestra 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer

1933 Scuola di Ballo 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:
Ballet in one act after Boccherini

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer

1934 Suite for Violin and Orchestra 4.00 stars LP
Suite Comments:
Susanne Lautenbacher - Violin
Orchestra Radio Luxembourg cond. Jean Françaix
1935 Petite Quatuor pour Saxophones 4.00 stars LP
Suite Comments:
Nederlands Saxofoon Kwartet
1935 Petite Quatuor pour Saxophones 4.00 stars CD
New Music I Comments:
Rollin'Phones
Saxophone Quartet
1935 Les Malheurs de Sophie 4.00 stars CD
Suite Comments:
Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer
1936 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra 4.00 stars LP
Piano Concerto Comments:
Claude Paillard-Françaix - Piano
Orchestra Radio Luxembourg cond. Jean Françaix
1936 Le Roi Nu - Ballet 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:
Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer
1937 Musique de cour 4.00 stars CD
Comments:
Koos Verheul - fluit
Agnes Houtsmuller - viool
Jan van der Meer - piano
1946 Rhapsody for Viola and Small Orchestra 4.00 stars LP
Suite Comments:
Ulrich Koch - Viola
Orchestra Radio Luxembourg cond. Jean Françaix
1946 Les bosquets de Cythère, waltzes for orchestra 4.00 stars CD
Suite Comments:
Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer
1947 The Shepherd's Hour, Brewery Music 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

For piano and string orchestra

La Pieta - leader Angèle Dubeau

1948 Quintet for Woodwinds 4.00 stars LP
Quintet for Woodwind Comments:
Dorian Woodwind Quintet
1948 Les Demoiselles de la Nuit, ballet for cats 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:
Libertto by Jean Anouilh

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer

1953 Symphony in  G No 3 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer

1954 Paris, à nous deux! 4.00 stars LP
Suite Comments:
Opera bouffe

Solists, Nederlands Saxofoon Kwartet cond. Kerry Woodward

1955 Serenade B E A 4.00 stars LP
Le bal masqué Comments:

For string orchestra

Orchestra conducted by Edvard Fendler

1955 Serenade B E A 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

For string orchestra

La Pieta - leader Angèle Dubeau

1959 L'Horloge de flore 4.00 stars LP
Françaix - L'Horloge de flore Comments:
For Oboe and orchestra

John de Lancie - Oboe
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Andre Previn

1971 The Inestimable Chronicles of the Good Giant Gargantua 4.00 stars CD
Comments:

After Rabelais

For string orchestra and narrator

Albert Millaire - Vioce
La Pieta - leader Angèle Dubeau

1978 Ouverture anacréontique 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer

1987 Pavane pour un Génie vivant 4.00 stars CD
Piano Concerto Comments:

Ulster Orchestra cond. Thierry Fischer