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Émile JAQUES-DALCROZE (1865-1950)
Suite de danses (ca. 1911)
Poème alpestre (1896-98)
Treize petites variations sur "La Suisse est belle" (ca. 1895)
Suite de ballet (extraite de la comédie lyrique "Sancho") (1897)
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
Recorded at Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, August 2003
STERLING CDS-1057-2 [60:04]

What a delightful album this is; so full of sunny, melodic, strongly rhythmic music.

Émile Jaques-Dalcroze was born in Vienna on 6th July 1865 of Swiss parentage. Educated at the Geneva Conservatory, he went on to Paris to study with Fauré before going to Vienna for more study with Robert Fuchs and Anton Bruckner. He then returned to Paris where he consolidated his technique under Léo Delibes and Matthis Lussy whose knowledge of the theory of rhythm influenced him profoundly.

Jaques-Dalcroze was to go on to impress as one of the most enterprising figures on the musical scene in Geneva. Of him Ernest Ansermet observed: "What marks out the work of Jaques-Dalcroze is a spontaneity, an abundance of imagination, a fervour and a warmth that binds all these together."

Adriano, well-known as a champion of little-known Late Romantic music, conducts winning, sprightly, warm-hearted performances in these world-premiere recordings.

Suite de danses combines enchanting melodies that linger in the memory, with rhythmic variety and ingenuity. There is vitality and feminine grace about this music, and an exciting glitter (in the grand-ball like concluding Allegro con brio). Add to this an endearing sweet sentimentality that has for much of its length French charm as well as much that is reminiscent of the style and mood of Eric Coates, especially in the outer two movements. There is irony and humour too in the pert, perky Allegretto and a cleverly observed, cool classical fugal Andante.

Not quite so successful is the Poème alpestre, a colourful alpine evocation. It includes folk dance material in a rather shallow bombastic style but the main attraction is an extended middle section in which the pastoral peace of the Swiss countryside is shattered by a violent storm fully suggestive of lashing gales and torrential rains.

The theme of Jaques-Dalcroze’s Variations is a naïvely sentimental song that enjoyed immense popularity in both the French-speaking and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland. Jaques-Dalcroze’s variations demonstrate much rhythmic and harmonic ingenuity. For instance his Allegretto leggiero, Variation three is syncopated and jazzy, again reminiscent of Eric Coates; his lovely Adagio con misterioso Variation four has Elgar’s brand of wistful nostalgia and a remarkable trumpet solo. Then there is the Alla Haydn Variation with its own cheeky ‘Surprise’ and the mischievous piety of the Fauré-like Andante religioso and the jolly, high-spirited Alla fanfare Variation. The whole is rounded off with a magnificently vulgar and pompous Marche philistine!

The compilation ends as it began with another scintillating suite of ballet music, Suite de ballet. It corresponds to a ball scene at the end of Act II of Jaques-Dalcroze’s Sancho, a very ambitious four-hour lyric comedy in a four act and eight tableaux drama that reserved a ‘privileged position for dance and mime’. Each of the four movements, especially the enchanting Andantino second movement, have grace, glamour and a melodic charm that is quite irresistible.

An irresistible hour of enchanting easy listening: wonderful melodies and vivacious rhythms. Recommended.

Ian Lace

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