Louise Farrenc was one of the most prominent musicians in mid-19th Century Paris. She was a respected concert pianist and composer. She’s best remembered for her chamber music — and this release demonstrates why.

The three works on this album were composed between 1852 and 1856. and they’re all finely crafted compositions.

In general, Farrenc’s style reminds me somewhat of Mendelssohn’s — with a difference. Farrenc’s music seems a little sturdier and more substantial. Farrenc was an exceptional pianist. Her writing for the instrument in chamber settings is both imaginative and idiomatic. The piano passages aren’t especially showy — Farrenc’s instrument is a team player.

The Wind Sextet was originally written for Farrenc’s colleagues at the Paris Conservatoire. It’s for flute, clarinet, oboe, horn, and bassoon (a standard wind quintet) with piano. Farrenc expertly balances her forces, giving every instrument an opportunity to shine.

The Op. 44 Trio in E-flat is for clarinet, cello, and piano. The Op. 45 Trio — also in E-flat — substitutes the flute for the cello. I’m sure Farrenc’s colleagues enjoyed playing these works. I suspect they also provided Farrenc with feedback.

The clarinet and flute are at the forefront most of the time. And Farrenc’s writing takes full advantage of the capabilities of each instrument. These solo parts are not interchangeable.

The members of the OperaEnsemble perform to perfection. They bring a lightness to this music that makes it all the more appealing.

Louis Farrenc: Wind Sextet, Trios
Wind Sextet in C minor, Op. 40; Clarinet Trio in E-flat major, Op. 44; Piano Trio in E minor, Op. 45
OperaEnsemble; Linda di Carlo, piano
Brilliant Classics