Acclaimed period-instrument ensemble Ironwood, revives the sounds of the French Romantic era with works by Louise Farrenc and Camille Saint-Saëns in a new album release, Romantic Dreams: Quintets for Piano and Strings, available July 24, digitally and on CD, on ABC Classic.
Travel back in time to the changing tastes of mid-19th-century Paris, from the influence of Schubertian Classicism in Farrenc’s music to Saint-Saëns’ delicate soundscapes.
Ironwood’s interpretation of these quintets is guided by research into historical performance practices, informed by early acoustic, electrical and piano roll recordings, including some by Saint-Saëns himself, and by contemporaneous texts by French and Belgian musicians. This research, coupled with the sounds of gut-strung stringed instruments and an original Érard concert grand piano from 1869, re-imagines the sound world that these composers created.
Louise Farrenc was a composer, pianist and teacher who was incredibly influential in her own lifetime – especially unusual for a woman in the early 1800s. In 1842 she became the first female professor to be appointed at the Paris Conservatoire, where she taught piano for 30 years and was successful in fighting for pay equal to her male colleagues. Her music was largely forgotten during the 20th century, but the resurgence of interest in female composers in recent years has seen her works restored to prominence. This is the first recording of her work released on ABC Classic.
Camille Saint-Saëns is far better known today in mainstream classical music, with works like The Carnival of the Animals and his Third (‘Organ’) Symphony. He was an innovative composer, foreshadowing the style of Les Six and even Stravinsky.
Established in 2006, Ironwood draws on a wealth of experience and expertise, bringing together leading exponents of historically informed performance. Ironwood has presented at the major festivals and concert series around Australia and has toured Europe and America. With several recordings on the ABC Classic and Vexations840 labels, Ironwood is regularly broadcast nationally on ABC Classic and around the world. Ironwood has partnered with Musica Viva and has collaborated with The Song Company, Ensemble Offspring and a broad spectrum of Australian composers, exploring both old and new music.
Louise Farrenc 1804–1875
Quintet for piano and strings No. 1 in A minor, Op. 30
1 I. Allegro / 2 II. Adagio non troppo / 3 III. Scherzo (Presto) / 4 IV. Finale (Allegro)
Camille Saint-Saëns 1835–1921
Quintet for piano and strings in A minor, Op. 14
5 I. Allegro moderato e maestoso / 6 II. Andante sostenuto / 7 III. Presto / 8 IV. Allegro assai, ma tranquillo
1CD + Digital | Available 24 July 2020 | ABC 481 9887