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Vincent d'INDY (1851-1931)
Médée Op. 47 (1898) [27:12]
Karadec Suite Op. 34 (1890) [9:57]
Saugefleurie Op. 21 (1884) [15:58]
Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Darrell Ang
rec. 2017, Malmö Live, Malmö, Sweden
NAXOS 8.573858 [53:15]

The orchestral music of Parisian eminence d’Indy did rather well out of the Voix de Son Maitre “L’Esprit Française” series. Those discs and LPs came under the guiding hands of Pierre Dervaux, Michel Plasson and Georges Prêtre. Before that the coverage involved a patchy and random pilgrimage around the labels. Very much later along came Chandos; they gave us what I take to be the complete orchestral music across six (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6) very well packed CDs. These are at full price at least until Chandos gather them up into one of their bargain boxes. Who knows when that might happen, if ever.

At rising 54 minutes (not an unusual figure) you couldn’t call this Naxos disc well packed. That said, the readings are idiomatic and the recording is a pleasure if not spectacular. Also, allowances need not be made for a Swedish orchestra in French music; why should they be? Ang is a dab-hand at this sort of repertoire and is well able to turn his hand to it. Naxos have already retained him, to our advantage, for collections by Bruneau (8.573888), Dutilleux (8.573596), Meyerbeer (8.573195), Lalo and Manén Violin Concertos (8.573067), Smetana (8.573672) and Offenbach (8.573694).

These works by d’Indy date from the period bracketed by the turn of the century and fifteen years before that. Two are confections from theatre music. The last is a tone poem. They are not exactly unknown, but shall we say little known. The half-hour five-movement suite Médée offers listeners a dark, dank and surprising Delian Prelude. The Pantomime alternates light and impassioned hands. L’Attente de Médée is a wonderful evocation of quadruple pppp superbly rendered by Naxos’s Sean Lewis. Do try to catch up with this track where d’Indy and Ang spin the most fragile silk filaments. The Médée et Jason gives a great sense of depth of stage without pummelling the listener out of his or her seat; likewise, the folksy and ultimately regal Le Triomphe Aurorale.

The three-movement Breton-flavoured Karadec Suite includes a determined Prelude, a delicious lighter-than-air romantic Chanson and a surprisingly earnest Noce Bretonne (Breton Wedding). It’s all quite grown-up and, in case you were wondering, it is understated in a way that Massenet, the older composer, rarely attained in his numerous and attractive suites. Away from the theatre d’Indy delivers a tone-poem Saugefleurie from 1884. This is most magically spun by Ang, as are the acoustically tiered and stage distanced brass music at 4:12. It’s a lushly romantic piece and one that in the right hands (as here) can find itself being counted alongside Franck’s Psyché. Its poetic moments, romping brass and yearning strings leave it to vie with Franck’s Symphony; but why compete?

If we were looking only at Saugefleurie and wanted a single full disc of d’Indy’s orchestral works that also includes the Wallenstein cycle and music for viola and orchestra then turn to Hyperion and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Thierry Fischer.

The notes are done with a light yet informative hand by Dominic Wells.

Ang and d’Indy deliver this unusual programme steering clear of frivolity, without compromising smooth musical sentiment and with undoubted feeling,

Rob Barnett

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