WORKS: Hymne à la justice; Suite dans le style ancien; Chant funèbre; Overture, Op. 10; Hymne à Vénus
PERFORMER: Luxembourg PO/Mark Stringer
CATALOGUE NO: 1C 1067
Admirers of Albéric Magnard’s four noble symphonies should probably seize this chance to acquire all his other orchestral music handily collected on a single disc. Serious-minded and self-critical, Magnard did not allow substandard work to see the light of day, and all these scores reflect his distinctive personality. Even the early Suite dans le style ancien, for all its inspiration in Rameau, brings a Wagnerian gravity to its dance movements and a nascent polyphonic mastery to the final gigue.
The other works show the hand of the symphonist even more clearly. The Hymne à la justice, inspired by the Dreyfus Affair but completed in comparative tranquillity some years later, is one of Magnard’s most dramatic and passionate utterances; the chorale melodies of the deeply troubled Chant funèbre, written on the death of his father, are patently cut from the same cloth as the great Third Symphony. The Overture could be another symphonic first movement, while the Hymne à Vénus – last and, in its austere fashion, lushest and most Romantic of these scores – serves as a useful reminder that the major gap still to be filled in the Magnard discography is precisely Magnard’s Bérénice, for which the piece was a kind of study. Fiery, committed performances and excellent recording. Calum MacDonald