D'Indy was a contemporary of Debussy and Ravel, and a pupil of César Franck. Fauré described him as ‘The Samson of Music' for his multifarious and generous-minded work as a composer, conductor, educator and propagandist who greatly strengthened French musical culture.
Today the music of d'Indy is sadly neglected, which is why Chandos and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra have decided to embark upon a series devoted to his orchestral works with conductor Rumon Gamba. With a style essentially eclectic and strongly influenced above all by Beethoven and Wagner, d'Indy particularly excelled in orchestral composition. He drew particular inspiration from his native region in southern France, and formed a body of post-romantic works richly orchestrated, often inflected with folk-like melodies and employing Franck's well-known ‘cyclic method'.
The series begins with a programme of in part rarely performed works, including the outstanding Jour d'été à la montagne, Op. 61, a work of d'Indy's full maturity, composed in 1905. This cyclic three-part evocation of a day in the Ardèche mountains is full of impressionistic details and orchestral nature painting, partly influenced by Debussy but essentially classical in tonal structures. It is complemented by the early La Forêt enchantée, Op. 8 and largely contemporaneous Souvenirs, Op. 62, which d'Indy composed as a memorial to his late wife.
This is the first foray by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for Chandos into the realm of French repertoire after recordings of the music of Malcolm Williamson. On the most recent Williamson release, American Record Guide commented, ‘Rumon Gamba's direction of the Iceland Symphony is superb, as is the shape and conviction of all these interpretations. The sound is vibrant and clear'.
'Rumon Gamba eliciting controlled and delicate playing from the orchestra in the other two works, does so again here and his vision of dawn at the very opening has more naturalness and magic about it than Marek Janowski's version which I find very matter-of-fact... All credit too, to the Iceland SO for producing many moments of great beauty, and reminding us that d'Indy wasn't the dry old stick that his detractors have inclined us to suppose.' BBC Music Magazine
'The rich orchestration in all three works is superbly realised by the excellent Iceland Symphony Orchestra under Rumon Gamba and the state-of-the-art Chandos recording; definitely a key record of d'Indy's orchestra output.' Gramophone
'Whether or not the Iceland Symphony had previously played d'Indy, its identity with his idiom is undoubted, while Rumon Gamba ensures the preponderance of slower music does not endanger formal cohesion ... Pertinent notes by Andrew Thomson round out the attractions of another invaluable Chandos undertaking.' International Record Review
'The orchestra, under its musical director Rumon Gamba, has no problem warming to the Ardeche summer's day so evocatively conjured up in d'Indy's tone poem Hour d'ete a la montagne of 1905. An with some exceptional playing it delves deep into the Wagnerian world of La Foret enchantee and explores the changing moods of Souvenirs. It is all aided by a sumptuous recording.' The Telegraph