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A Distinctive Voice

Music by
Vincent d'Indy -
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'The eloquent solo viola of Lawrence Power is crucial ...'

Vincent d'Indy. © 2009 Hyperion Records Ltd

It can safely be said of any concert schedule that at some point it will sicken for a Mahler cycle. Luckily there are many record companies that have either resisted or recovered from that particular bug, and are prepared to explore unfairly neglected corners of the repertoire. Once the cobwebs are removed in performances as convincing as these from Hyperion, D'Indy proves far more than a gifted pedagogue only just emerging from the influences of Wagner and Franck. He has a distinctive voice of his own, and is a superb master of orchestral colour.

The major work on the CD is a tone-poem of 1870-81 based on Schiller's Wallenstein play. Wallenstein (1583-1634) was a hero, if there can be said to have been such a thing, of the Thirty Years' War, that outstandingly dismal period in European history when Catholics and Protestants abounded, but there was a singular dearth of Christians. Wallenstein began as a Protestant, became Roman Catholic in his early twenties, offered his services to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II for an initial five-year period, was thought too big for his boots, but was then recalled after a series of Catholic reverses before being assassinated by an Englishman acting under imperial orders.

Schiller, and maybe D'Indy, approved of him more than I do; but musically he cuts an impressive figure, whether presiding in his army camp, embroiled in the love-affair between his daughter Thécla and the son of one of his treasonous officers, or dying in accordance with his astrological calculations. The opening deals with Wallenstein triumphant before the sacked city of Magdeburg, where as many noncombatants were senselessly butchered as happened recently in Gaza.

Listen -- Le camp de Wallenstein
(track 1, 0:01-1:27) © 2009 Hyperion Records Ltd

The second movement is essentially the love scene, but it has at its core more brisk development of Wallenstein's character.

Listen -- Max et Thécla (Wallenstein)
(track 2, 2:34-4:25) © 2009 Hyperion Records Ltd

The eloquent solo viola of Lawrence Power is crucial to the other three works. In the Choral varié of 1903 it is the more than welcome alternative to a solo saxophone. This is the most recent work on the CD, and D'Indy deploys a wonderfully rich orchestral palette.

Listen -- Choral varié
(track 4, 9:40-10:48) © 2009 Hyperion Records Ltd

The touching tale concerning the love and death of a Sageflower fairy, doomed when she falls for a passing prince, again invokes the viola as she expires. The royal hunt cuts a splendid figure as it approaches the fairy's tree-trunk home.

Listen -- Saugefleurie
(track 5, 4:41-6:28) © 2009 Hyperion Records Ltd

D'Indy has proved admirable throughout, and one is suitably grateful to the players under Fischer for so convincingly demonstrating the fact.

Copyright © 27 April 2009 Robert Anderson,
Cairo, Egypt






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