Koechlin: Seven Stars’ Symphony; Four Interludes; L’andalouse dans Barcelone

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Koechlin
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Seven Stars’ Symphony; Four Interludes; L’andalouse dans Barcelone
PERFORMER: Deutsches SO, Berlin/James Judd
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68146 2
Although included in RCA’s 100 Years of Film Music series, Koechlin’s 1933 Symphony is about films – specifically seven film stars. The individual movements are Koechlin’s own view of Douglas Fairbanks, Lilian Harvey, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings and Charlie Chaplin – and the roles they played. An underlying other-worldliness associated with stars as heavenly bodies (Koechlin had early ambitions as an astronomer) is apparent. As in his Jungle Book symphonic poems, he uses large and unusual combinations of instruments in rich complexity, to achieve astonishingly individual but highly evocative textures and colours.

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Judd vividly reveals all the magical star qualities, transporting us into a dream world of Arabian nights for ‘Fairbanks’, the exciting, joyous bustle of early Hollywood for ‘Bow’ and a remote aloof world as epitomised by the use of the ondes martenot for ‘Garbo’. ‘Chaplin’ portrays the pathos of the little tramp as well as his clowning, and the narrative parts tellingly pitch bullying tubas, horns and bassoons against plaintive, cowering strings. The Surround Sound helps the music to breathe appreciably, especially in the intriguingly attractive Interludes and the flamboyant Andalusian gypsy music. The stuff that dreams are made on. Ian Lace