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Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931)
Orchestral Works - Volume 6
Wallenstein, op. 12 (1879) [36:31]
Fervaal – Prelude to Act III, op. 40 (1895) [7:22]
Lied, for cello and orchestra, op. 19 (1884) [8:39]
Suite dans le style ancien, for trumpet, two flutes and strings, op. 24 (1886) [16:19]
Sérénade et Valse, op. 28 (1885) [5:10]
Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir (cello)
Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
rec. 2014, Eldborg, Harpa, Reykjavík, Iceland
Reviewed as 16- and 24-bit lossless downloads from theclassicalshop.net
CHANDOS CHSA5157 SACD [74:32]

This is apparently the final volume in this very fine series of the orchestral works of Vincent d’Indy. It has been a while coming – Volume 5 was released in 2013 – and I began to wonder if the project had stalled short of the finishing line. If it is the final volume, then it can’t be classed as the complete orchestral works as at least two works are not included: Fantaisie sur des thèmes populaires français for oboe and orchestra (op. 31) and the Concert for piano, flute, cello and strings (op. 89). Chandos does have a recording of the latter work, one released after Volumes 5 of this series, but with Sir Neville Marriner and the ASMF (review).

The major work is Wallenstein, a three movement “symphonic poem” based on Friedrich Schiller’s poetic drama of the same name, set in the Thirty Years War about a treasonous imperial commander, Albrecht von Wallenstein. It was inspired by d’Indy’s attendance at the premiere of the Ring cycle in Bayreuth in 1876. There are numerous instances throughout Wallenstein where one hears hints, almost direct quotes. Early in the first movement there is an episode very reminiscent of the forge scene in Siegfried, but here it is a triangle that is being struck, not an anvil. My first exposure to the music of d’Indy was a Hyperion recording of orchestral pieces conducted by Thierry Fischer, including Wallenstein and the Lied (review), and I recall being so impressed. This new recording of Wallenstein lacks the dramatic impulse that makes the Hyperion so good. It is, unfortunately, a common theme across each work on the disc.

Fervaal was d’Indy’s first opera, taking him six years to complete. It is set in the period of the Saracen invasion of France (early 8th century) and is the story of the doomed love between Fervaal, a warrior and last descendant of the Celtic gods, and Guilhen, a young Saracen princess. The music is very much under the spell of Wagner, especially Parsifal (according to the notes). The Prelude presented here depicts a battlefield littered with bodies.

The Lied, beautifully lyrical, is one of only a few orchestral works of d’Indy featuring a solo part, the Symphony on a French mountain air being the most significant. It is given a very expansive and gentle performance here, more than a minute slower than the Hyperion version, which also differs in opting for the alternative scoring of viola as solo instrument. I feel that d’Indy’s original intention of cello works better, and that being so, this is the only available version.

The Suite is also quite slow, and to its detriment. The other versions I have (Luxembourg Philharmonic soloists on Timpani [14:31] and the Viotta Ensemble on Channel Classics [14:11]) are, as you can see, substantially fleeter. They may not be as well played or recorded, but make a better case for this charming, if rather slight, homage to traditional dances. A similar pair of adjectives could be applied to the Serenade et Valse. This would appear to be the only currently available recording, though there is no claim that it is a first recording.

I have only recently started downloading, where available, 24-bit “better than CD quality” files. In this instance, I obtained the standard 16-bit as well for a comparison, and was somewhat disappointed to find only a small improvement in quality. The 24-bit version was certainly better – a slightly more open sound – but I’m not sure it is worth the extra cost (£13.99 vs £9.99) and the extra disc space (1.2 Gb vs 350 Mb). The booklet notes are very strongly orientated towards musical analysis rather than the historical side.

It is very disappointing that after five really fine volumes of d’Indy’s lovely music, this final one misses the boat rather badly.

David Barker

Reviews of previous volumes
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5

 

 




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