One of Franchomme’s many gigs was section (and later lead) cellist of the Paris Conservatoire Concert Society Orchestra. This group premiered many of Beethoven’s, Berlioz’s and Mendelssohn’s orchestral works in Paris (remarkably, many of Beethoven’s symphonies had not been performed in Paris yet!) Their artistry was praised by Franchomme’s friends Mendelssohn and Chopin, who both performed piano concertos with the group. I’ve recently discovered what must be the definitive book about this orchesta’s history, The Société des Concerts du Conservatoire: 1828-1967, written by Professor D. Kern Holoman. On his book’s accompanying website, Prof. Holoman lists this program for their concert given on Sunday, March 29, 1829:
1. Ouverture d’Oberon, de Weber.
2. Air tiré de l’Hymne de la nuit, de M. Lamartine, musique de M. Neukomm, chanté par M. Wartel.
3. Solo de cor, par M. Mengal.
4. Symphonie en la de Beethoven (redemandée).
5. Chœur de Weber.
6. Solo de violoncelle, par M. Franchomme.
7. Alleluia, grand chœur du Messie de Haendel.
Although Franchomme had been a founding member of the orchestra, this was his first appearance at one of their concerts as a soloist; in fact, it seems to have been the Parisian solo debut of the young Auguste Franchomme. He was most likely performing one of his own Caprices which he would publish around 1835 as his Op. 7 (these Caprices were written with an optional 2nd cello part, and our album will include two of them in their duo version). This is what critic François-Joseph Fétis wrote in La Revue Musicale a few days after the concert:
Un jeune homme, un enfant, M. Franchomme, est venu, ignore, jouer sans pretention un solo de violoncelle, de manière à se mettre tout à coup sur la ligne des plus grands artistes. Il a dit un thême, sans aucun ornement, et toute l’assemblée fut transportée de plaisir…Trois, quatre, cinq salves d’applaudissemens ont à peine suffi pour exprimer le plaisir qu’avait éprouvé l’assemblée.
(A young man, a child, M. Franchomme, has come, unknown, and played without pretention a cello solo, in a manner that suddenly places him in the lineage of the greatest artists. He stated a theme, without any ornament, and the audience was transported…the, four, five rounds of applause were barely enough for the audience to express their pleasure).
I’ve also written something for the AMS blog, Musicology Now, which is now up (and includes some videos!):