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Émile JAQUES-DALCROZE (1865-1950) 
Tragédie d’amour: Seven lyric scenes (1906) [30:29]
Suite Pastorale (1900) [23:30]
Overture from the opera Sancho (1897) [10:57]
Elena Moșuc (soprano)
Bratislava Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
rec. Slovak Radio Bratislava Studio 1, 2016/17
STERLING CDS1116-2 [64:58]

After more than dozen years Sterling return to the cause of Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, a composer born in Vienna of Swiss parents. His studies were with Robert Fuchs and Anton Bruckner. In 2002 and 2004 Sterling issued two discs of other orchestral works. Jaques-Dalcroze can also be heard in two works for violin and orchestra on Guild. The composer's name may also be familiar given that Rob Maynard has identified him as one of the 'music and movement' pioneers. As with the Sterling CDs the conductor here is that consummate and driven advocate of desperately neglected romantic music, Adriano. He has been interviewed here several times, most recently by Jim Westhead.

Here is a composer who, if you know those other two Sterlings, may have lodged in your mind as a soul-brother to Massenet or Arensky: the music there tends to be light, polished and diverting. If you have formed a judgement based on those discs this one may deliver a jolt. The Tragédie d’amour is a voluptuous song-cycle in which seven poems are set by the composer. The French titles give a hint as to the style: I. Tu es revenu, mon bien aimé; II. J'ai laissé ma porte ouverte; III. J'attendais, nul n'est venu; IV. Je l'ai revu; V. Je pleure la nuit et je ris le jour; VI. C'est le soir de la joie and VII. J'ai laissé ma porte ouverte. The scoring is transparent and more Gallic than Teuton. The model could easily have been Berlioz but exotically spiced. One could easily imagine this composer being inspired by Flaubert's Salammbo; indeed, these settings whipped to white heat have the aromatic spice of Bernard Herrmann's fake operatic aria. Elena Moșuc has a wide-stage voice which smokes and flames in total accord with the orchestral score. She is an articulate channel for this work's emotional thunder, passionate lightning and riptide of passions.

The Suite Pastorale draws on the composer's larger oratorio-style La Veillée (The Vigil). À la fenêtre is diaphanous and smoothes its way over the aural palate - seeming to echo Delius at his most entertaining (Florida Suite). Les vieux dansent has a rustic Gallic charm. Evidently these old folks can still trip the light fantastic. La forêt parle is somewhat Tchaikovskian, seeming to suggest a tree-thronged clearing occupied by one of MacDowell's Woodland Sketches. The music is glisteningly thoughtful yet unassertive. Farfadets (Sprites) is the longest movement. For a while the mood established by the previous movement is carried over. Gradually the music becomes more lively and rustically chivalric but it's far from wild. The Suite would sit in perfect accord with Elgar's Wand of Youth and the countryside suites of Ludolf Nielsen, Julius Harrison and Havergal Brian. The overture is to a 'comedy in music' Sancho (on the subject of Don Quixote). It's light but delightful stuff comparable with Massenet and Grieg. The whole five-act work reputedly runs to four hours. The music of Sancho is also represented as a Suite on Sterling CDS1057-2. Its predecessor, the opera Janie, can be heard in highlight form on Sterling CDS1065-2.

The notes - very helpful with such unusual music - are in French and English and are by Jacques Tchamkerten. The words are printed in the handsomely produced booklet, both in the sung French and in English translation.

Two works suited to a lighter palate alongside a deeply impressive and intense late-romantic song-cycle. Quite a contrast. Very fine performances and recordings.

Rob Barnett

Previous review: Jim Westhead

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