Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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JOSEPH RYELANDT (1870-1965) Symphony No. 4 (for chorus and orchestra) (1912-13) [47 mins] Idylle Mystique (for soprano and orchestra) (1901) [16 mins]    Mireille Capelle (sop) Koor Novecento-Gent Musica Flandrorum-Harelbeke Het Symfoniorkest van Vlaanderen/Fabrice Bollon   rec 26-27 December 1995 World premiere recording CYPRES CYP1616 [63.11]

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Ryelandt was very much a Bruges based artist (he was born and died there). He is of the same generation as De Boeck (a strong contender in the late romantic stakes), Meulemans (his symphonies are well worth getting acquainted with), Paul Gilson (try his La Mer), as well as even lesser known figures such as Lodewijk Mortelmans, Martin Lunssens (I have never heard of him!) and Flor Alpaerts (better known for organ and choral music but with orchestral music to his name also).

On this showing Ryelandt is firmly in the Franck (Psyché and Symphony), Wagner and Tchaikovsky (Symphony No. 4) camp. The first movement is restless - touched with a sense of the apocalypse. The strings are not ideally clean though they put the music across well enough. The symphony is the fourth of five symphonies and I would be very pleased to discover the other four. There is nothing crudely dramatic about it. The Elysian calm (almost Brahmsian but with a very light hand on the orchestration) of the Andante Sostenuto (II) is memorable. The Lento (yes, a lento after an andante) is the most contemporarily romantic movement. It has a dynamic lilt which slaloms between Dvorák, Brahms, Mendelssohn (The Hebrides) and Franck. The chorus enter the fray in the finale (they are heard briefly earlier on in the work) which at 17:15 is the longest movement of the four. In it you can pick out the influences of Fauré's Requiem (the words are from the Credo) and also those of Verdi and Brahms. The style is reverential, ethereal and moving with some Handelian pomp at 10.00 onwards. If there are (very slight) reservations about the string section the chorus are quite magnificent. As a work this is impressive compromised only by a long finale that feels structurally rather ramshackle amid the flickering sincerity and flaming grandeur.

The Symphony (like the other four still in manuscript) had to wait until 1960 before its premiere at a concert for the occasion of the composer's 90th birthday. This recording observes the composer-sanctioned cuts. I would like to hear the others. I understand that numbers 3 and 5 have been issued previously.

Delian's with a taste for Fauré and the Richard Strauss orchestral songs will love the Idylle Mystique. It will also warm the cockles of those who loved the Bantock Sappho song-cycle (not to be missed on Hyperion). Mlle Capelle is in voluptuous voice though not so fulsomely overflowing that she is unable to enunciate clearly. The words are from The Song of Songs and deserve to join that select company of works we known from the Francophone generation of the period 1890-1920. Think perhaps of Chausson's Poème de l'Amour et de la Mer and the chaster tone of Elgar's Sea Songs. It also made me think back to the Novak song-cycles (Supraphon and ClassicO) I reviewed earlier this year.

The notes are good on facts and rather long on musical technicality. The booklet gives the texts of neither the Symphony nor the song cycle.

Tasteful design work in common with the CYPRES Lekeu and Delage discs also forwarded for review.

A middlingly strong suit in the neglected repertoire league. More than enough to make me want to explore further. The song cycle is the strongest of the two works.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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