This is Volume 5 in our series dedicated to the orchestral works of Vincent d’Indy, nicknamed ‘The Samson of Music’ by Fauré, for his work as a composer, conductor, and teacher. His style was essentially eclectic, strongly influenced by Beethoven and Wagner, into which he frequently incorporated folk melodies.
Based on a folk tune from the Tourtous, the Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français is today one of the best-loved works by d’Indy. This highly atmospheric work is scored for piano and orchestra; however, far from engaging in conflict with the orchestra, the soloist here operates on equal terms. The solo part is performed by the internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie
The symphonic poem Saugefleurie tells the story of the tragic love between Saugefleurie, a lonely yet charming little fairy, and the King’s son, based on a poem from the Contes de fees by Robert de Bonnières, a friend of the composer’s. The Wagnerian influence is apparent throughout; however, in terms of orchestration and sonority this work remains characteristically French.
Among the now forgotten works of the French poet, novelist, and dramatist Catulle Mendès is the play Medée, based on the Greek myth of Medea, who murdered her two sons in revenge for her rejection by her lover Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. D’Indy wrote incidental music to the play in 1898, and later preserved it in the form of an orchestral suite in five movements, recorded here.
Also on the theme of doomed love is d’Indy’s first opera, Fervaal
, a work of Wagnerian scale and proportions, and clearly displaying the influence of Parsifal in the complex network of leitmotivs. At the same time, in its historical setting at the time of the Saracen invasion, and in its musical evocation of local colour, it reflects the earlier Parisian Grand Opéra of Meyerbeer and Halévy.
This recording is the first ever made at Harpa, the new concert hall in Reykjavik, which opened its doors to the public in May 2011, and was subsequently named by Gramophone one of the greatest concert halls of the new millennium.
Symphonie sur un Chant montagnard français, op.25 - Saugefleurie, op.21 - Médée, op.47 - Prélude à l'Acte I de Fervaal, op.40 / Louis Lortie, piano - Iceland Symphony Orchestra - Rumon Gamba, direction