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Hyperion Records

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The Alyscamps, Arles (1888) by Paul Gaugin (1848-1903)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris / Lauros / Giraudon / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67690
Recording details: February 2008
Brangwyn Hall, Guildhall, Swansea, Wales
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 17 minutes 25 seconds

'D'Indy handles his outsize forces with conspicuous skill (there's some terrific horn writing throughout), and the work's A flat major apotheosis is haunting indeed. Both the Op 19 Lied and Choral varié prove very fetching discoveries, especially when Lawrence Power plays with the selfless dedication, sense of poetry and lustrous tone that made his world premiere recording of York Bowen's viola concerto so special … a toothsome and notably enterprising collection, this, with splendidly ample and atmospheric sound to match. A confident recommendation seems in order' (Gramophone)

'Full of vitality and warmth, with bright brass and energetic strings in upfront perspective against a resonant acoustic … Lawrence Power as viola soloist … responds generously to the passages of hushed intenstity in the Choral varié' (BBC Music Magazine)

'These works make a good introduction to D'Indy's post-Wagnerian art … Choral varié and Lied are concertante works in which, respectively, the saxophone and cello solos are replaced by viola, played by Lawrence Power with his customary seductiveness' (The Sunday Times)

'Scintillance and flair … enthusiastically recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Saugefleurie, Op 21
1884; first performed by the Concerts Lamoureux in 1885; after a poem from Contes des fées by Robert de Bonnières

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Composed during a particularly fertile period which also produced the Symphonie cévenole (1886), d’Indy’s symphonic poem Saugefleurie was written in 1884 and premiered by the Concerts Lamoureux the following year. Its programmatic basis consists of a poem taken from Contes des fées by his boyhood friend Robert de Bonnières, a minor literary figure. Saugefleurie, a humble, lonely yet charming little fairy, living in a hollow tree trunk by a lake, is surprised by a splendid royal hunt with its brilliant display of uniforms, hounds and horn fanfares, led by the King’s son in person. Their eyes meet in an unspoken love; although Saugefleurie knows that she is therefore destined to die, she gives herself to the Prince and accepts the consequences. ‘Love and Death are always lying in wait: / Do not believe that she for whom I weep / was spared, / She expired within the hour / Like a Sageflower such as she was.’ (‘Amour et Mort sont toujours a l’affût: / Ne croyez pas que celle que je pleure / Fut épargnée, / Elle sécha sur l’heure / Comme une Fleur de Sauge qu’elle fût.’)

The Wagnerian influence is still very apparent, yet the music remains characteristically French in its sonorous refinement and clear luminous orchestration. Four melodic ideas are announced in the introductory Assez lent et calme section in the key of A flat major. The first of these, rising and falling in a rich Wagnerian texture of divided cellos in four parts, sets the rustic scene; the second in the horns, rising chromatically à la Tristan und Isolde, stands for ideal love; the third, a lyrical melody with triplet quavers represents Saugefleurie herself, appropriately stated by a solo viola; this is brusquely interrupted by the fourth theme, an incisively sinister rhythmic motif in the violins, signifying fate and destiny. The last of these is subsequently taken up by muted horns as the music becomes increasingly urgent. A new C major leaping theme in the horns, brilliantly evoking the royal hunt and very obviously derived from Siegfried, dominates the following section. Another new and virile melody also emerges, representing the Prince, while the rhythmic idea of fate becomes increasingly prominent. The calm atmosphere of the A flat opening eventually returns like an oasis, featuring Saugefleurie’s melody played by flutes and upper strings with a broken-chord accompaniment on two harps, a magical effect. An extended and varied development of her melody, together with the Prince’s theme, reaches the bright tonality of E major. Eventually, the Tristan-esque idea significantly reappears followed by the C major hunting-horn music, which gradually disappears into the distance. As the music winds down, the rhythmic motif of fate is now heard in conjunction with the Tristan-esque idea as Saugefleurie expires. The superbly poetic coda in the initial A flat tonality depicts her transfiguration as the solo viola and flute play her lyrical melody in a most imaginative texture of quaver movement on two piccolos, timpani rolls and tappings, broken chords on harps, and widespread string chords.

from notes by Andrew Thomson © 2009

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