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Vincent D’INDY (1851-1931)
Orchestral Works - Vol. 2
Symphony No. 2, Op.57 (1902-03) [44:02]
Tableaux de voyage, Op. 36 (1892) [17:36]
Karadec (Incidental Suite), Op. 34 (1890) [10:49]
Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
rec. Haskolabio, Iceland, 8-11 September 2008. DDD
Text by Andrew Thomson
CHANDOS CHAN10514 [72:52]
Experience Classicsonline

An aspect of D’Indy’s output that is not frequently mentioned is his inclination to travel in music. In addition to the famous Symphony on a
French Mountain Air we have the early Symphonie Italienne, the Jour d'été à la Montagne, Dyptique Méditerranéen and a number of other scenic or geographically -oriented works. Karadec and Tableaux de Voyage, two of the three pieces on this new disc, fit into this same category. 

Karadec was originally incidental music to a play taking place in Brittany. The suite consists of three parts, all three betraying a charm that is far from the heaviness associated with many of the composer’s more ambitious works. The Prélude comprises a folksy march followed by a Franckian middle section. The major interest lies in how D’Indy brings back the opening march, only to turn it progressively sadder and more distant - a characteristic of many of his works. The Chanson that follows is charming, but lacking in character. In the Noce bretonne (Breton Wedding) the original march theme returns, but somewhat agitated, with the composer developing it further in interesting style. The agitation gives way to a new and happy theme on the oboe, leading to a return of the Prélude’s music. In short, not a gripping work, but one with much charm. 

From Brittany we cross the border to Germany and the Black Forest. In spite of his rabid patriotism, D’Indy had a great love for German culture. The Tableaux de voyage consists of orchestrations of six of a cycle of thirteen piano pieces from 1889. They are linked by the use of mediant relationships - intervals a third apart - producing a sense of expansiveness. This is very obvious in the opening Préambule where thirds on woodwinds produce a sense of mystery on entering the forest. En marche is pleasant, with an alternation of a folk melody and a quavering figure which both die away in the typical D’Indy manner mentioned above. This is perhaps the highlight of the work. Appropriately solemn is Le Glas (the knell or toll). This has a wavering use of C-minor and a beautiful development of a melody on clarinet and viola, with references to the Préambule. The next two movements, Lac vert (Green Lake) and La Poste are less interesting although the latter has moments that are reminiscent of Pierné, which the latter composer would certainly have thought a compliment. The final Rêve, again in C-minor, starts out sounding like Bruckner’s Seventh, but becomes livelier and ends with quotations from several of the other movements. Again, a charming work, but not of the most substantial. 

The Symphony No. 2 is considered by many to be the most important of the composer’s many orchestral works. D’Indy’s adherence to cyclic form is well-known and the Symphony No. 2 is based upon not one but two motifs that appear throughout. They are presented in the introduction to the first movement - the first motif disturbing and slightly amorphous and the second nobler and reassuring. What is interesting is that they both have whole-tone elements and the use of whole-tones appears throughout the symphony. The main part of the first movement is a sonata-form disturbed by the first motif, but also containing beautiful developments of the second motif. The slow movement consists of contrasting variations of the two motifs, with some interesting orchestration. In the third movement we have a new theme on viola, followed by much use of the whole-tone scale, generating a real sense of mystery. This is followed by variants of the viola theme. In the last movement the first motif is turned into a fugue before the main theme, based on the second motif, appears. This is happy and light-hearted and excellently developed. Although there are reminiscences of the first motif, the new theme continues on to a grandiose chorale - a fine end to the symphony. 

The woodwinds of the Iceland Symphony are first rate, especially in the Tableaux de voyage and Karadec. The strings are also very solid. Gamba’s rendition of the latter piece compares well with available competition by Douglas Bostock (see review) as does his Tableaux with the old version by Dervaux. For the Symphony I have to say that I prefer Plasson’s version. But overall this is a creditable effort, especially as a complete D'Indy does not come our way every day.

William Kreindler




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