Ropartz: Psalm 136; Dimanche; Nocturne; Les vêpres sonnent

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Psalm 136; Dimanche; Nocturne; Les vêpres sonnent
PERFORMER: Soloists; Vittoria d’Île de France Regional Choir, Nancy Lyrique SO/Michel Piquemal
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555656 Reissue (1994)
A worthwhile lesser figure in 20th-century French music, the Breton Joseph Guy Ropartz (1864-1955) followed harmonic and orchestral paths opened up by his teacher César Franck. Very acceptable performances of five substantial works benefit from the fluid beat of conductor Michel Piquemal, though the sound is muddy. Most Franckian is the 1897 setting of Psalm 136 (‘By the Rivers of Babylon’), while the 1926 Nocturne – which sets one of Ropartz’s own poems – recalls Delius. Les vêpres sonnent (1927) is delicately sensuous, and Dimanche tightly organised yet lush. Only the self-consciously archaic Miracle de Saint Nicolas (1905) disappoints. George Hall