ALBUM TITLE: Dukas
WORKS: Works by Dukas
PERFORMER: Chantal Santon (soprano); Julien Dran (tenor), Jean-Manuel Candenot (bass-baritone); Les Siecles/Francois-Xavier Roth
CATALOGUE NO: ASM 12
Following Saint-Saëns, Stravinsky and Debussy (among others), the irrepressible Les Siècles under François-Xavier Roth now turn to Dukas. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is the inevitable headline work, given plenty of colour and a suitably rambunctious climax. What makes this disc a must-have for francophiles, though, is the inclusion not only of the post-Wagnerian Polyeucte Overture from 1891, but also the even earlier cantata Velléda. Written for one of Dukas’s failed attempts to win the Prix de Rome, Velléda may not be entirely idiomatic (if the notion is possible for a composer with such a small output), but the music is lovely, with the Prelude containing some sublimely inventive touches. The vocal soloists are convincing advocates, soprano Chantal Santon’s long solo being especially beguiling.
As with all Les Siècles recordings, these performances are audibly live and have great spirit. Where half a caveat arises, as with some of their other releases, is that, while the instruments may be of the period, the style of playing is not always entirely so. The bottom line here, though, is that this is compelling playing of wonderful music which, Sorceror’s Apprentice aside, is barely known.