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Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931)
Symphony No. 2 in B flat major, op. 57 (1902/3) [42:06]
Souvenirs, op. 62 (1906) [19:32]
Istar, op. 42 (1896) [13:31]
Fervaal – Prelude to Act I, op. 40 (1889-1895) [4:54]
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Jean-Luc Tingard
rec. Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, July 2015
NAXOS 8.573522 [80:03]

Vincent d’Indy’s cause was given a huge boost in the last decade by Chandos, which produced six wonderful recordings under the stewardship of Rumon Gamba with the Iceland SO. It was this series that introduced me to this striking music. I am not sure whether Naxos intend this to be the first of a series, but if so, that is to be applauded, regardless of the undoubted qualities of the Chandos set. The choice of orchestra is certainly a good one, as the Scottish orchestra must have French Romantic music very much under their fingers. They enjoyed a very successful period with Stéphane Denève as Chief Conductor, recording much Roussel, a student of d’Indy, for Naxos.

This recording has already been reviewed on this pages, so if you require some biographical or historical information, please follow the link at the end to Nick’s review. Suffice to say that this music is not the delicate impressionism of Debussy, the exoticism of Ravel and certainly not the elegance of Saint-Saëns. Its influences come from beyond the French borders, in the cyclic structures of Franck and the drama and brass-driven climaxes of Wagner. As a stylistic reference, not implying an influence, I also hear the occasional hints of Vaughan Williams, especially in the symphony. I suspect that is why I like d’Indy’s music so much.

If you aren’t familiar with d’Indy’s music, Souvenirs might be a good sampler. It is set in four continuous movements; the Chandos recording tracks them separately, Naxos does not.

The performances here are uniformly excellent, at least the equal of the Icelanders and Gamba. The various solo episodes, the viola theme at the start of the third movement of the symphony, for example, are beautifully played. Tingaud is perhaps a little more strident in places, sacrificing lushness of sound for dynamic effect. That’s not a negative in any way. The symphony is two minutes shorter here than in the Chandos recording (review), reflecting a slightly greater sense of urgency, though the difference is certainly not sufficient to make those who own the Chandos recording abandon it.

The sound quality is very fine, and the notes, while not up to Chandos standards, are perfectly good. For those with the Chandos series, this will be a “nice-to-have but not essential” purchase. For those new to d’Indy’s music, this is an excellent place to start, at the lower Naxos price.

David Barker

Previous review: Nick Barnard



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