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CD Review

Paul Dukas

  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice
  • La péri (Fanfare & Poème dansé)
  • Symphony in C Major
RTÉ Symphony Orchestra/Jean-Luc Tingaud
Naxos 8.573296 71:46
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"For this recording, manuscript sources for the three works were consulted, including the hitherto private proofs of the first edition of The Sorcerer's Apprentice, ensuring rigorously faithful performances." Okay, sure, whatever. The truth is, this is no guarantee of great music-making, and more to the point, the music sounds exactly how we expect it to sound. Luckily for us, this means a disc full of vibrancy, color, and the composer's uniquely evocative sound world. Recently it seems that Naxos has really figured out how to record French orchestras in the best light possible, and for value (money and musicality) this is one of the best Dukas discs on the market.

The ubiquitous Sorcerer's Apprentice is wonderful. Not as diabolical as Toscanini, nor as hedonistic as Ormandy, its measured and carefully charted opening is marvelously visual. From there, it's wholly winning, with upbeat tempos and real sparkle. Jean-Luc Tingaud finds a ton of little details that allow us to appreciate how fine this little tone poem actually is. The selections from La Péri – the joyous Fanfare and lovely Poème dansé – make a fine bridge into the Symphony, which receives the finest performance I have yet heard.

The first movement is tremendously exciting, while the andante is singing and maintains a genuine sense of flow. The RTÉ Symphony Orchestra makes some beautiful sounds, with special mention for the woodwinds. In the concluding allegro, Tingaud shapes the music in propulsive and exceptionally played arcs of sound. Here, the brass have a field day, and really show off. The strings really dig in and provide a rock-solid framework for the music to ebb and flow. The sound faithfully captures the orchestra, and at the price, I can't think of a better way to get this music all at once.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman