Conductor: Bertrand de Billy
Organ: Benjamin Sheen
Debussy: Prélude à L’Apres-midi d’une faune
Poulenc: Organ Concerto
Franck: Symphony in D minor
The distinguished French conductor Bertrand de Billy makes his début with the APO, opening with Debussy’s languid masterpiece of high summer. Then the mighty Auckland Town Hall organ lets rip, as the organist Benjamin Sheen plays Poulenc’s darkly Gothic but very French concerto.
The composer César Franck, who was an organist in his day job, would have approved. His only symphony, written in the twilight of his career, is an ingenious blend of French sensibility and German form set in a three-movement format. This open, approachable work is laced with one splendid melody after another.