The Legend of Joseph calls upon dance to express the torments of faith and desire, while the Violin Concerto imposes its youthful vitality. These two Straussian works are here set upon a touchstone in the repertoire, César Franck’s mystical masterpiece.
Based on the story of Potiphar’s wife in the Old Testament, The Legend of Joseph was originally a ballet for a libretto by Hofmannsthal, premiered in 1914, and from which Strauss drew this symphonic fragment in 1947. After this ode to dance, the Violin Concerto takes us back to the composer’s youth, when at just 17 years old he was still under the influence of Brahms and Mendelssohn. Classically cut, the work opens, under the masterful arc of Renaud Capuçon, with a grandiose Allegro before giving way to a more intimate and effusive Lento, and then an energetic Rondo sparkling with virtuoso violin.
Franck’s Symphony in D minor is also classical in form, yet this is a late work, one of the composer’s last. In the course of three movements, each with a distinct style of composition, the composer delivers the quintessence of his characteristic ‘cyclic’ principle, culminating in a finale of grandiose solemnity, in the choral spirit of community and liturgy.