Royal Scottish National Orchestra/RCS Voices/Jean-Luc Tingaud

Cesar Franck – Le Chausseur Maudit/Psyche/Les Eolides


ALTHOUGH it is not perhaps the nation that immediately springs to mind when considering the repertoire of Scotland’s national orchestra, the RSNO has an impressive recent history with French music. The Auld Alliance has continued beyond the tenure of former principal conductor Stephane Deneve, although it was under his leadership that prizes were won for recordings of the music of Claude Debussy and, on Naxos, Albert Roussel, and Scottish audiences were introduced to the contemporary cosmic sounds of Guillaume Connesson.

Five years ago the orchestra teamed up with another French conductor, Jean-Luc Tingaud, for a Naxos disc of a symphony and other works by Vincent D’Indy and now the same team has turned its attention to the under-appreciated catalogue of his teacher, Cesar Franck. His influence on a younger generation as a forward-looking composer was immense, but it was allied to a natural diffidence that meant his own success came late in life, despite a precocious start.

The three-part symphonic poem, Psyche, at the heart of this album, was completed only three years before the composer’s death. It benefits from some fine singing by the students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland trained by Tim Dean, and the whole disc is enhanced by the move to the orchestra’s new premises on Glasgow’s Killermont Street with its superb acoustic. This is passionate music with Wagnerian colours and grandeur but rather less of the pomposity, and the roots of it can be discerned in the companion pieces, Franck’s first hit, about divine retribution meted out to an arrogant huntsman, which opens the disc, and the earlier, more impressionistic, Les Eolides.

Keith Bruce