The Franck D minor Symphony can be a treacherous undertaking for almost any orchestra. Its highly repetitive nature sets the trap for what could be a boring, monotonous performance if not executed with a great deal of forward-moving energy and attention to nuance. Fortunately, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under the direction of Marek Janowski does not fall into this trap. The first movement is very driven. The fateful three-note motive, presented in all its permutations of augmentation and diminution, is kept interesting and is highlighted even when it may otherwise be obscured by other material. The second-movement Allegretto is quite graceful with admirable consideration of dynamics. The cyclical Finale is still able of maintaining the listeners interest by never losing momentum and making clear the return of motives and themes from the previous two movements.
While the better-known Franck symphony receives top billing on this album, Ernest Chausson's Symphony in B flat is a shining example of a student surpassing his teacher. Chausson's handling of the orchestra seems much more deft and natural. While elements of Franck's teaching are quite clear, so too are the influences of Wagner and Debussy. The sweeping melodies and lush accompaniments are again handled with the utmost attention to detail by Janowski and the OSR.