Dukas: Symphony in C; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; La peri

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WORKS: Symphony in C; The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; La peri
PERFORMER: Netherlands Radio PO/Jean Fournet
‘He left only a few works, but what works!’ On the evidence of this recording of three of the four surviving orchestral scores by Paul Dukas, Enescu’s tribute is an apt one. Like his compatriots, Duparc and Durufle (what’s in a name?), Dukas was intensely self-critical, and destroyed at least as much music as he published. Everyone knows The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, of course, and this orchestral scherzo receives a suitably brilliant performance. The short ballet La peri dates from 1910, and is based on a Persian myth about the seductive dance of a fairy who is too beautiful to die; the sensuous score is full of fashionable orientalism, and prefaced by a brass fanfare. But the largest work here is the 40-minute Symphony which Dukas completed in 1896. It followed hard on the heels of a burst of symphonic activity by his colleagues D’Indy, Franck and Chausson, but is nearer in style to Bizet’s earlier, transparent symphony in the same key than to the weighty chromaticism of those three. Two lively and inventive outer movements enclose a haunting E minor Andante imbued with a chaste lyricism which is rather touching. Fine performances from the veteran French conductor Jean Fournet, with a spacious recording that captures most of the detail. Stephen Maddock