D'Indy: Orchestral Works 3 (Symphony 3/ Diptyque Mediterraneen/ Istar/ Choral Varie)
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Sinfonia Brevis de Bello Gallico op.70 - Diptyque méditerranéen op.87 - Istar variations symphoniques - Choral varié op.55 / Sigurður Flosason, saxophone - Iceland Symphony Orchestra - Rumon Gamba, direction
Ruman Gamba, who certainly does his best with the intractable material of the symphony, here draws deeply sympathetic playing from his orchestra,leaving us to wish that d'Indy had always composed thus. As readers of his early diary and letters will know,beneath the formal crust he had a warm heart performance ***** recording***** --BBC Music Magazine, May2010
Top Customer Reviews
But you will have noticed the 4 stars instead of 5 and the fact that I am only just getting to the music. Quite simply the largest piece in this collection, the four movement Third Symphony, the Sinfonia brevis on the "French War" (written 1916 - 18) is not very convincing music. The military sounds invading the pastoral peace are a little laid-on and the use of snare drum and timpani is a bit self conscious. Most seriously the treatment of a Gregorian Chant mode in the fourth movement is really quite ugly and ill conceived, especially as it is the climax of the work (movement #4 about 6 minutes and 5 seconds and following). I would not be surprised if this recording represents the best performance this work has ever had! But it still does not convince me...
The other works, however, are sheerly delightful. "Istar" suffers slightly from very long and sinuous melodic structures, making it hard to work out where the seven variations actualy occur, and perhaps it might have been helpful if Chandos had tracked them. The Choral Varie is a mini (alto) saxophone concerto and, if a little sombre, it has a haunting quality that is most attractive.Read more ›
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After all, the third one is not quite in the same division. Symphony No 3 is a rather mediocre composition, wearing the subtitle "Sinfonia brevis de Bello Gallico", i.e. the first World War, and it has in the main a character of boisterous and rambunctiously overexcited war music.
But the other three pieces introduced here are well worth listening to. Probably, d'Indy reached his best results when composing motifs taken from nature and the shifts of the day. "Diptyque Méditerranéen", Op 87, paints a Mediterranean landscape in morning sun and evening sun - that is the "Diptyque", the two-part structure of this ravishingly impressionistic music. Overwhelmingly beautiful indeed! And the symphonic variations of "Istar", Op 42, renders a mythological motif from an Assyrian epic: in order to release her lover from the realm of death, an inverted Orpheus motif!, Istar, the Goddess, has to dress off one veil for each of the seven gates of the underworld. This is an almost grave and serene tonal picture of the dance of the seven veils, in contrast to Richard Strauss's sensual version in "Salome". Most attractive is maybe "Choral varié", Op 55, a stunning, short piece for saxophone and orchestra from the very beginning of the 20th century, deliciously played by Sigurdur Flosason, remotely reminding you of Jan Garbarek's atmospheric "Officium" some years ago.
Perhaps it is recommendable to start with the earlier two volumes first, especially No 2 with the magnificent second symphony. Probably, after that, it'll be difficult to resist the third one too, with its three highlights, as excellently played by Gamba and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra as No 1 and 2.
To my surprise, this 'new' music was incredibly lush, cinematic, and passionate. Also to my surprise, there was nothing 'new' about French composer Vincent d'Indy who lived from 1851-1931.
The disc opens with Istar and its lush, atmospheric opening with prominent horns and woodwinds. This is followed by a melodic interplay between solo strings (violin) and solo woodwinds (oboe/flute). Then enters a happy jaunt which is quickly interrupted by a march followed by swirling romantic themes (reminiscent of of Bernard Hermann at his romantic best) coming to a grand conclusion.
D'Indy's Chorale Varie for saxophone is beautiful, moody, and solemn with a tonal texture similar to Dvorak's New World Symphony composed 10 years earlier. The saxophone proves to be a worthy symphonic instrument too often overlooked.
Symphony #3 is a little of a mixed bag, however. The 1st movement is indicated as "Lent et Calme," but it more closely resembles a march with mildly calm moments. The 2nd carries on in a brisk, playful mood. In contrast, the 3rd opens with moody solo lines from the woodwinds (flute, oboe, clarinet) which continue throughout. The sometime gallant / sometime lumbering 4th movement is announced by the horns followed by the bass drum and timpani. D'Indy's sparse orchestration is what makes it lumber for me as the least interesting of the four movements, which makes for an unsatisfying close to an otherwise worthwhile piece.
The disc closes with Diptyque Mediterraneen, featuring a sunrise (part one) and sunset (part two). Part One of this lush, exceedingly beautiful tone poem opens quietly with shimmering strings accented with brief lines from the winds, slowly to the early morning sun - thus its title of "Soleil Matinale." On a personal note, I'm a sucker for sunrise music - I love when the music "emerges" in soft, shimmering pieces, gradually increasing in radiance until the full splendor of life surrounds you. Sunset music, however, is totally new for me and it is what D'Indy tackles as the subject of Part Two, "Soleil Vesperal." He does an admirable job of reversing the sun's movement, ushering in the darkness at the very close of the piece.