César Franck

In celebration of César Franck two-hundreds birthday, Belgian music publisher XXI Music Publishing presents the first edition of the composer’s Rédemption Symphony in its original 1872 version, otherwise known as the Ancien morceau symphonique or Former symphonic interlude. Unheard until now, this score was rediscovered by leading César Franck specialist Joël-Marie Fauquet during his research as musicologist.

The work will be premièred during a concert performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Ryan Wigglesworth on Friday 13 May at the Barbican Centre in London, which will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Paul Hughes, director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus and the BBC Singers said: “The chance to perform the world première of a work written 150 years ago by a composer is rare, and so when my friend and colleague François Dru (Editorial Manager of XXI Music Publishing) drew my attention to this ‘former symphonic interlude’ of César Franck’s Rédemption, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. I’m thrilled that the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth, has been given the honor to perform this marvelous work.”

This Morceau symphonique, which up until now has never been heard before, has finally been published for the very first time. This piece was entitled Symphonie in the first edition of the reduction for voice and piano of Rédemption, the composer’s symphonic poem for voice and orchestra, to which it acted as an interlude.

Deemed too difficult by its initial performers who were put off by the numerous copying errors, this symphony was eliminated from the first performance of Rédemption, given by the Concert-National under the baton of Édouard Colonne in April 1873 in Paris.

Succumbing to the insistence of his student Vincent d’Indy, Franck became set on reworking the score and replacing this “symphony” with another entirely new one that he composed during the summer of 1873. However, proof that his first creation was still of some value to him, Franck kept the orchestral manuscript that he referred to himself on the title page as Ancien morceau symphonique.

Out of context, this interlude stands alone as a work in its own right: a true symphonic poem, it marks the return of the composer to the orchestral scene, some twenty-five years after he composed Ce qu’on entend sur la montagne based on Victor Hugo’s homonymous poem, which represented the birth of the genre in France.

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