1990, Music

Dukas: La Peri; L’Apprenti sorcier; Chabrier: Suite pastorale; Espana (1990) by Yan Pascal Tortelier, Ulster Orchestra

This is a decent collection of two fairly similar composers but it could be better.

Dukas’ music is generally interesting and I guess king of on the level below the greatest French composers of that generation. Still quite good, but not up to the Debussy standard.

I little less warmly towards Chabrier’s music. For one thing, I’d much rather here the original piano compositions than the orchestrated suite. I also feel like his ode to Spain is a little less obviously Spanish than some other, similar celebrations.

It’s still enjoyable music, just not life-altering.

7 or 8/10

Fanfare pour précéder La Péri (1912)

This is a piece written to precede Dukas’ ballet La Péri. This fanfare is what you would expect in the beginning, full of big brass. There’s a more compelling climax. Still not that much to get excited about.

La Péri (1911)

The ballet is one of those moody late Romantic pieces that conjure up so many different emotions. I think I recognize some of the melodies but I can’t be sure.

It’s still pretty traditional for the day and age, so I don’t know that it’s a masterpiece by any means, but I like it and I could listen to music like this all day.

L’apprenti sorcier (1897)

This is Dukas’ most famous piece in North America, and possibly most of the world, because of Fantasia. Because of Fantasia, it was one of the earliest pieces of art music I ever heard. So it’s really hard to think about it in any objective light. I have heard this so many times, it’s so much of what I think about when I think about either “classical” music or Fantasia. It’s certainly extremely iconic to me.

Suite Pastorale (1888) [Four pieces from Pièces pittoresques but orchestrated)

When I was young, I didn’t care about whether a piece was original or an orchestrated adaptation. But I’ve come to prefer the original piano pieces to so many of these things, once I actually get to hear them. Orchestration appears to be an attempt to turn a profit, by making a piece or set fit for the symphony circuit.

It’s hard to imagine these pieces as piano pieces. Maybe that’s a good thing, as maybe Chabrier transformed his music enough when he orchestrated it. But I remain skeptical.

España (1883)

I have been spoiled by Ravel, but this doesn’t sound very Spanish to my ears. Maybe I lack the context, but I have a hard time associating the sounds in this piece with what I know of Spanish music or Spain more so than, say, France. It sounds like French music to me until the castanets come in. And they just feel like an accent.

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