D’Indy: Symphony No. 2; Tableaux de voyage, Op. 36; Karadec, Op. 34

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: D’Indy
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 2; Tableaux de voyage, Op. 36; Karadec, Op. 34
PERFORMER: Iceland SO/Rumon Gamba
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10514

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An epic and sometimes self-conscious attempt to provide the French symphonic tradition with its crowning glory, Vincent d’Indy’s No. 2 certainly holds up well. You can practically hear the Meccano being tightened as he assembles its thematic girders and brackets into yet another ingenious combination.

Yet for all the contrivances it’s a vital, vividly scored and eventually stirring piece. When d’Indy escapes from his determination to build most of it from the same two themes, he comes up with moments of breathtaking poetry and strikingly personal harmonic colour.

Rumon Gamba keeps it all on the move as memories of Franck, Chausson and Saint-Saëns flash past, and although there isn’t the same lyrical expansiveness as in the deleted Michel Plasson/Toulouse recording, he – like the symphony – saves the best for the final run-in, complex mood-swings holding back the distantly glimpsed moment of triumph.

The orchestra, bright in tone against a resonant background, could do with weightier strings but plays with precision and energy, and loosens up in the freer, fresher miniatures of the Tableaux de Voyage.

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Karadec, a suite of extracts from a theatre score that uses Breton melodies, has something of the warmth and terse drama of Fauré’s stage music. Robert Maycock