Jean Françaix 1912-1997
Trio di Colore
XXI XXI-CD 2 1580
Nadia Boulanger pronounced to the mother of 10-year old Jean Françaix: “I don’t know why we’re wasting our time teaching him harmony, which he obviously knows already. How he became so proficient at it is a mystery; he seems to have been born with it. Let us rather do counterpoint.” That love of harmony persisted throughout his life and career. Françaix was criticized in the 1950’s for not moving ahead with the serialists and dodecaphonic composers. His reply was disarming: “I would gladly be the spiritual grandson to Grand-Papa Haydn. The limpidity, the calm and the humour of his art seem to me the antidote to the contemporary idiom.”
Despite his protestations that he never changed, Françaix obviously evolved. As the composers of the minimalist movement (most notably John Adams) re-discovered harmony, so did Françaix discover his own version of minimalism. The perfect example of that evolution is one of his late compositions, the 1990 Trio for Clarinet, Viola and Piano. Together with his compositions from the 1970’s, 1940’s and even 1930’s, this disc becomes a great Françaix primer, beautifully executed by Trio di Colore. This young ensemble, formed at the acclaimed Indiana University – Jakob School of Music, received the First Prize and Gold Medal at the prestigious 2004 Fischoff Chamber Music Competition. The individual musicians are also winners of multiple competitions, guaranteeing an intelligent and beautiful reading of thes harmonic treasures by Jean Françaix.