César Franck this weekend – by no means an obscure name, and in fact one of the most popular French composers of the 19th century. Beginning his career as an organist and teacher, he began composing in earnest later in life. But more than made up for lost time by composing a large number of memorable and often-performed works.
This weekend its an early composition. Les Eolides was one of his earliest symphonic works. Prior to that it was primarily instrumental and organ pieces. This new direction, composing for a large ensemble brought forth an untapped reservoir of ideas that went from 1874 to 1889 and established César Franck as a major voice in French music.
Collectors will undoubtedly know who Jesus Etcheverry is. As one of the main opera conductors in France, Etcheverry was responsible for leading some of the most memorable and highly regarded Opera recordings of the 1950s and 1960s via his long association with The Opera-Comique which went from 1957-1972. His recordings during the early days of the lp, and later, early stereo were cornerstones for most Opera collections. Working primarily in France, Etcheverry also conducted Opera in London, Lausanne and Barcelona. He was very active with the ORTF and conducted numerous broadcasts of operas which were not generally given any other way. In the early days of CD, a large number of his broadcast productions of little-known French operas were issued to the public, offering performances of some works heard for the first time. Three of his most celebrated and critically acclaimed opera recordings, which are still in print, are Gounod‘s Mireille, Massenet‘s Thais and Werther.
Sadly, Etcheverry passed away in 1988, leaving behind an impressive legacy of memorable and highly prized recordings. And because of his numerous broadcasts, more surface and are being made available.
This performance is from circa 1967 – no exact date, as is always the case with these French Radio transcriptions. In any event, it lends further proof that Jesus Etcheverry was more than a talented Opera composer – and César Franck was more than a talented organist and teacher.