I’m a bit late with these, but here are some photos from the Festival de Violoncelle de Beauvais, where I had a great time performing with Helene Jeanney and Philippe Muller in the first concert (Franchomme and Chopin, with my stories for the audience in French!), and then performing the cello sonatas by Koechlin and Debussy in concerts that night. The later concerts also featured lots of fascinating, rarely-played cello repertoire performed by cellists Emmanuelle Bertrand, Philippe Muller and Matthieu LeJeune and pianists Pascal Amoyel, Hélène Jeanney, and Emmanuelle Le Cann– including some particularly intriguing works by Saint-Saens, DuParc and Cras! It was a satisfying day (followed by well-earned wine and cheese in the kitchen), and a lovely trip.
©2017 Do not copy, publish or reproduce without the written permission of Louise Dubin
Because of this blog, I receive some interesting email queries. One that has come up a few times is the cross-influence of Chopin and Franchomme—to what extent, and in what direction?
For almost 2 centuries, many (including Schumann) have assumed that Chopin was the guiding force. But in my Introduction to the freshly published Selected Works for Cello & Piano by Auguste Franchomme (May 2017, Dover Publications: click here for Table of Contents), I discuss some examples of how Franchomme may have influenced Chopin (and vice versa). I’ve posted some excerpts below. After an email discussion this week with my friend, the great pianist and pedagogue Sara Davis Buechner, I invited her to share her own observations on the same topic, from a pianist’s perspective. Stay tuned for her fascinating post!
From my Introduction© to the Dover volume:
“After Chopin’s death, Franchomme sorted through the hundreds of pages of manuscripts that Chopin left to him and prepared several posthumous works for publication, including the Mazurka, Op. 68, No. 4. He contributed to the complete Chopin editions prepared by Chopin’s pupils Tellefsen (1860) and Mikuli (1880), and helped edit the Breitkopf & Härtel Chopin edition (1878–1880). All of this exposure to Chopin’s music must have inspired Franchomme’s 50-odd arrangements of his solo piano works for various cello combinations (many unpublished), including the Nocturnes, Op. 55, and the 1870 arrangements included in this volume. Chopin was also the direct inspiration for some of Franchomme’s original compositions, including his gorgeous Trois Nocturnes, Op. 15 (1839, included here) …The nocturnes of both Chopin and Franchomme feature aria-like melodies over broken chords, and usually have a ternary structure. Franchomme was the first composer of nocturnes for cello in this form…”
“Franchomme also influenced the works that Chopin composed for the cello, both directly and perhaps indirectly. We know that Franchomme performed Chopin’s cello works with him, and suggested changes to his Introduction and Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3 that Chopin incorporated into subsequent published editions. Chopin played his Op. 65 with Franchomme privately before completing it, and likely incorporated Franchomme’s suggestions into the final publication. In addition, Franchomme’s decade of performances in the Théâtre-Italien certainly inspired his own music, and may also have contributed to Chopin’s fascination with the Italian aria, and his incorporation of this vocal style into his solo piano writing…”
Cross-influence between Chopin and Franchomme in fingerings, phrasing, and style- this is where it gets technical, y’all!
“…Franchomme’s years of playing with singers clearly informed some of his fingerings.” For example, he “…relished slides under a slur on one string…which are rather out of style today and which even Duport had advised against except as a last resort, to avoid a ‘disagreeable sound.’”
Despite Duport’s warning, Franchomme apparently executed these slides with great taste. In the words of Henri Blanchard, “suave et pur, élégant et mélodique” (Revue et gazette musicale de Paris, April 25, 1841). Incidentally, similar vocal qualities in Chopin’s music were noticed by Charles Rosen! He wrote in The Romantic Generation that Chopin “composed with a sense of melody and a way of sustaining the melodic line derived directly from Italian Opera.”
In the Dover publication I also discuss “an even more remarkable fingering choice: Franchomme’s use of the same playing finger on several successive descending notes in a row. The most extreme example I have found occurs in his Fantasie sur Souvenirs de ‘Richard Coeur de Lion’ de Grétry, Op. 27, where he uses the third finger on a chromatic descent of 13 notes, probably a world record for a cello composition up to that point! Shorter examples of this unique fingering are found throughout Franchomme’s compositions (in this volume, see the three 4th fingers in the opening of his arrangement of Chopin’s Prelude, Op. 28, No. 20, four consecutive notes played with the 4th finger at the end of the introduction of his Op. 23, and the five consecutive descending third fingers in the opening Largo of his Op. 34). In Chopin’s own fingerings printed in his original publications, he often indicated using the same finger on consecutive notes in a melodic passage, for a supple cantabile led by the arm. Watching Chopin’s technique may have inspired these fingerings in Franchomme’s compositions. Or, perhaps Franchomme’s decade at the Théâtre-Italien contributed to Chopin’s own fascination with Italian arias and his incorporation of vocal techniques into his piano fingerings! (Interestingly, a comparison of Chopin’s fingerings to those indicated by Franchomme in his Chopin transcriptions reveals only that they both used this type of repeated fingering, but not in the same places.)”
“Franchomme’s works are full of… long slurs over many notes…[for example, his] transcription of Chopin’s ‘Cello’ Etude in C Sharp minor, Op. 25, No. 7, (p. 178) is as faithful as possible to Chopin’s long phrase markings, within the parameters of what is possible on the cello….In combination with Franchomme’s tendency to use thumb and harmonic fingerings in melodic lines, these clues suggest a tendency toward faster tempos, and a style of performance favoring elegance over massive sound production,” which seems also to have described Chopin’s playing.
©2017 Louise Dubin
Chopin Prelude Op. 28, No. 9 arranged by Auguste Franchomme for 4 cellists, Transcribed from unpublished manuscript by Louise Dubin. Performers: Louise Dubin, Raphael Pidoux, Gauthier Boutin, Philippe Muller, cellists
Salle Gaveau, December 2nd, 2016 “La Nuit du Violoncelle,” gala concert of VioloncellenSeine, biannual convention of the French Cello Society. World premiere studio recording on The Franchomme Project album: http://www.louise-dubin.com/shop
In celebration of Franchomme’s birthday on April 10, 1808, I’m posting one new video per day this week (as well as tweeting them @WeezeeDee). This post has videos #1, #2 and #3…
Video #2 Tuesday: Franchomme Caprice No. 9 cellists Louise Dubin + Julia Bruskin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05tykg8y3Io&feature=youtu.be
Video #3 Wednesday: Franchomme’s friend Mendelssohn wrote this piece before he came to Paris, for his cellist brother. Variations Concertante, Op. 17 Fabio Parrini pianist + Louise Dubin cellist https://youtu.be/3mOfJKtoIKM from a November 2016 performance
Happy Birthday Franchomme! The Cello-Bration begins today and goes all week, with one new live video here each day, and giveaways! Here is the first: Franchomme’s Nocturne Op. 15, 1 performed by cellists Louise Dubin and Philippe Muller, at the recent edition of VioloncellenSeine in Paris, on 12/4/2016. https://youtu.be/ed9KuJN8EwU
To hear this composition live, check out Steven Isserlis this weekend at London’s Wigmore Hall*
Or you can hear me perform it with Philippe Muller at our May concerts in NYC and at the Festival de Violoncelle de Beauvais in France:
7 pm, Thursday, May 11th Rare French Cello Music at John Street Church 44 John Street, NY NY
Concert with cellists Louise Dubin and Philippe Muller and pianist Hélène Jeanney. Sonatas by Debussy, Pierre de Bréville, Charles Koechlin, and shorter works by Jean Cras, Chopin and Auguste Franchomme. Click for program
Saturday, May 20th Festival de Violoncelle de Beauvais directed by Emmanuelle Bertrand
Maladrerie Saint-Lazare, Beauvais, France
3 PM: UNE GÉNÉALOGIE DE VIOLONCELLISTES lecture by Philippe Muller
4 PM: FRANCHOMME PROJECT CONCERT featuring music on the album + 2 premieres, performed by Louise Dubin, Philippe Muller and Hélène Jeanney
6:30 PM: PERLES RARES Pt 1: Koechlin Sonata for cello and piano Louise Dubin with Hélène Jeanney, + performances by cellists Emmanuelle Bertrand, Philippe Muller, and Mathieu Lejeune
9 PM: PERLES RARES Pt. 2: Debussy Sonata Louise Dubin with Hélène Jeanney, + performances by cellists Philippe Muller, Emmanuelle Bertrand, and Mathieu Lejeune
*I sent Steven his copy. For your own copy: the Dover edition of this and other Franchomme works with piano, with my Preface, will appear in May. You can pre-purchase it now here.
©2016 Do not copy, publish or reproduce without the written permission of Louise Dubin
When I performed in Paris in September, I was thrilled that about a dozen direct descendants of Auguste Franchomme were in attendance. One of them presented me with this 1864 medal that had belonged to Franchomme—a real treasure! This was Franchomme’s medal commemorating his service as a founding member of the The Société des Concerts du Conservatoire under François Habeneck. Both Franchomme and Habeneck were in the group from its inception in 1828.
At first I assumed it was a retirement gift, but Franchomme actually retired from the job 5 years later, on October 12, 1869, when his 2nd consecutive request for a year’s leave was turned down. So there was probably a ceremony in 1864 at which all founding members were awarded these medals engraved individually with their names. (Unfortunately Habeneck was not among them, since he had died in 1849).
I have already written about Habeneck and the Concert Society of the Conservatoire elsewhere-
Suffice it to say, this was an important orchestra in Paris, and an important job for Franchomme. In addition to performing the solo part of the William Tell Overture countless times with this group as its principal cellist,* he also played all the Beethoven Symphonies (including the Paris premiere of Beethoven’s 9th), as well as premieres of works by Mendelssohn and Berlioz, and concertos by and with Chopin, Alkan, and Kalkbrenner. The Society’s concert series also is where Franchomme has his solo debut. He performed one of his own compositions, probably a Caprice without the optional cello accompaniment, in the concert on March 29, 1829. Here is what critic François-Joseph Fétis wrote in La Revue Musicale a few days after the concert (also discussed in the notes to my album The Franchomme Project):
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.
*(starting in 1846- before that time, he was 2nd cellist sitting next to his teacher, Martin Louis Pierre Norblin)
********************************************************************************Lorsque j’ai joué à Paris en Septembre, j’etais ravie de voir que environ une douzaine de descendants directs d’Auguste Franchomme étaient présents. Un d’eux m’a présenté cette médaille datant de 1864, qui avait appartenue à Franchomme—un vrai trésor!
Voici l’information que j’ai apprise à propos de la médaille: ce fut la médaille de Franchomme commémorant son service comme membre fondateur de La Société des Concerts du Conservatoire. Il était avec l’orchestre depuis son commencement par François Habeneck en 1828.
La médaille est datée 1864; 5 ans avant la retraite de Franchomme, le 12 Octobre 1869, quand sa 2ème demande de prolongation d’activité a été rejetée. Donc, une ceremonie a probablement eu lieu en 1864, au cours de laquelle tous les membres fondateurs ont reçus ces médailles gravées individuellement avec leurs noms. (Habeneck ne figurait pas parmi eux, puisqu’il était malheureusement décédé en 1849).
J’ai déjà écrit à propos de Habeneck et la Société dans les postes mentionné ci-dessus. Bref, ce fut un orchestre important à Paris, et un boulot important pour Franchomme. En plus de jouer la partie solo de l’Ouverture de Guillaume Tell d’innombrables fois avec ce groupe comme violoncelliste solo*, il a joué toutes les symphonies de Beethoven (y compris la Première a Paris de la 9ème de Beethoven), aussi bien que les Premières des œuvres de Mendelssohn et Berlioz, et les concertos par et avec Chopin, Alkan et Kalkbrenner. Dans l’un des premiers concerts de la Société, Franchomme a été présenté à Paris comme soliste lui-même, jouant l’une de ses propres compositions, probablement un Caprice, dans le concert le 29 Mars, 1829. Voici ce qu’a écrit le critique François-Joseph Fétis dans La Revue Musicale quelques jours après le concert (aussi dans mes notes de l’album The Franchomme Project):
“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.”
*(à partir de 1846- avant ce temps, il était 2ème violoncelle, à côté de son prof, Martin Louis Pierre Norblin.)
Le compositeur-violoncelliste oublié, Auguste Franchomme, fut un renommé musicien du 19ème siècle. Il fut un contemporain et un cher ami de Chopin. Mes découvertes à la Bibliothèque Nationale de F…