Dukas: Goetz de Berlichingen; Le roi Lear; Symphony in C

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COMPOSERS: Dukas
LABELS: Sterling
ALBUM TITLE: Dukas
WORKS: Goetz de Berlichingen; Le roi Lear; Symphony in C
PERFORMER: Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen/Fabrice Bollon
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 1074-2

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Dukas’s ballet La Péri of 1912 was followed by an unbroken orchestral tacet until his death in 1935. This silence, much regretted by his friends and supporters at the time and by many music lovers since, makes all the more valuable the two early works on this disc, both dating from his late teens and showing him to have been a student of quite exceptional promise.His later critical writings are notable for their perspicacity and wide knowledge, but also for a seriousness that just occasionally tips over into solemnity. Both these early overtures eschew frivolity or lightness of any kind, which is only to be expected given their subject matter, deriving from Goethe and Shakespeare, and Fabrice Bollon draws powerful playing from his orchestra. The language plainly derives from both Schumann and Mendelssohn (the opening of Le roi Lear recalling that of Ruy Blas), with additional touches of mid-period Wagner, and both works are well worthy of revival. By the time of the 1896 Symphony in C major (not minor, as advertised here) Dukas had developed his language along chromatic lines and not always successfully, leaving some awkward syntactical corners to be negotiated. Conductor and orchestra are decidedly less happy here. Tortelier on Chandos shows how things should be done, with affectionate phrasing, secure control of pace, more energy in the strings, accurate trombones, and a timpanist not bent on drowning his colleagues at climaxes. The Sterling sound is by comparison on the dry side. Roger Nichols