Paul DUKAS (1865-1935)
Orchestral Music
Fanfare to La Péri (1912) [2:32]
La Péri – Poème Dansé (1912) [19:28]
Symphony in C major (1901) [40:54]
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1897) [12:04]
Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands/Jean Fournet
rec. no details supplied but probably 1992
REGIS RRC1344 [74:21]

This disc first appeared as a Denon original in 1993 on CO-75284. Later it was reissued as Portrait PCL1016.

A warm aureole creamily crowns the sound image. The Fanfare has a strangely British chivalry while the Poème Dansé is astonishingly similar in its contours and treatment to the Bax of Fand, Nympholept and Spring Fire with a dash of Ravel and some echoes with Roussel’s most impressionistic symphony – the First. The atmosphere is rhapsodic, glimmering, sultry and romantic – not markedly oriental. It’s not as if, despite the overlapping subject matter, it is all that stylistically close to Rimsky’s Antar. The warm halo around the sound provides a mildly blurred impressionistic focus. I remember harder edges in the never reissued Boulez version once coupled on CBS with the Roussel Third Symphony. It comes as no surprise to learn that it was written for the Ballets Russes. The overly critical Dukas was on the point of destroying the score. We can be glad that he didn’t. The Symphony has a more Franckian optimistic-ecstatic surge. It is in the same ‘fleuve’ as the symphonies by Franck, Chausson (in which you can hear Fournet on Regis RRC1328) and D’Indy (No. 2). The Sorcerer’s Apprentice sounds a degree more analytical than the other works – every strand can be relished in Technicolor. Wonderfully characterful playing and tempo-shaping at 2:13-2:50. Real care has been taken and this is exalted by an imagination unremittingly engaged.

The anonymous note which is in English only is a good complement to this generous selection. If you want more Dukas then try the Chandos double.

Jean Fournet (1913-2008) seems in total and illuminating sympathy with this music. Apart from the fact that I hanker after more ample string tone this is all very eager and satisfying. Probably the best ever Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Stokowski included.

Rob Barnett

Wonderfully characterful and exalted by an imagination unremittingly engaged.