Vincent D’Indy wrote a bucketload of music in his productive lifetime, much of which is now forgotten. If one knows music by this composer then it is likely to be his tone poem, Ishtar, or the Symphony on a French Mountain Air, a quasi-piano concerto that is arguably the best thing he ever wrote.
He was a mover and shaker in French music. A passionate Wagnerite, he attended the premiere of the Ring Cycle, and Wagner’s influence can be heard in his music. If a case can be made for D’Indy’s lushly attractive (if discursive) music, then Maestro Gamba can do it. His collaborator in this adventure is the Iceland Symphony: a fine ensemble that delivers all that the conductor asks of it, playing the music with sensitivity and a sense of grandeur that this minor French composer’s music requires.
That he was a composition pupil of César Franck’s can be heard clearly at times. His pupils included Roussel, Satie and surprisingly, Cole Porter.The Poème is a languid work, good for a dreamy Sunday afternoon when you don’t much care if the agreeable music ever ends. The last section seems infinite, the musical material seeming to lack structure and short of enough good ideas to support the attractive orchestral noises he conjures up.
The Italian Symphony is a lesser relative of Mendelssohn’s similarly named Fourth Symphony. It has much more energy than the Poème, as there is more going on. It is a youthful work and the four movements are simply named Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples. However, I am not sure I heard much in the music to make these links. This is the fourth disc in Chandos’ series devoted to D’Indy’s music.