DUKAS: Orchestral Music = Fanfare pour preceder La Peri; La Peri, Poeme Danse en un Tableau; Symphony in C Major; L’Apprenti Sorcier, Scherzo d’apres une Ballade de Goethe – Radio Philharmonic Orchestra/ Jean Fournet – Regis RRC1344, 75:00 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:
The Regis label continues to transfer and remaster catalogue from the defunct Denon label, here reviving a fine collection of music by Paul Dukas under the veteran hand of French maestro Jean Fournet (1913-2008). Notoriously fastidious about his scores, Dukas destroyed a significant body of work, leaving six compositions of extraordinary and lasting power, but merely a shadow of his entire oeuvre, that would have included a Second Symphony and a Violin Sonata. Of course, his most famous composition remains his 1897 The Sorcerer’s Apprentice after the poem by Goethe, the opening pages of which inspired Debussy’s Jeux and Stravinsky’s The Firebird. Fournet delivers an extremely broad reading of the score, basking in its chromatic harmony and violently arresting surges of magical power, easily competitive with the more famous inscriptions by Stokowski, Mitropoulos, and Toscanini.
Leopold Stokowski made his own mark in the famous brass Fanfare to the 1912 ballet La Peri, but Fournet’s lacks nothing for power and sonic dimension. The ballet proper, luxuriously scored and rife with exotically sensuous melody, casts its own aura as it realizes aspects of a Persian myth, in which Iskander discovers a Peri who possesses the Flower of Immortality. The erotic energy Dukas generates bears a relation to the music of Debussy, D’Indy, and Koechlin, but it resonates with its own potent allure.
The infrequent Symphony in C Major (1896) in three movements by Dukas offers us a serious work for the delectation of the French symphonic tradition. Formally, the music corresponds to the conservative side of sonata-form structure, moving in the first movement between C Major and A Minor. The thematic content projects both a noble militancy and lyric songfulness, charmingly colored by the woodwind writing. At times, the music echoes passages in Chausson’s B-flat Major Symphony. The second movement Andante espressivo e sostenuto gently undulates in E Minor, melodic but at first somewhat static. The latter portion, however, assumes a hymnal aura, a sort of French chromatic Bruckner quality. The rondo last movement Allegro spiritoso invests in that cyclic form favored by all disciples of Franck and Liszt. The various themes fuse together artfully and exalted, the playing consistently warm and richly textured.
Historic renderings of music from France