Émile Jaques-Dalcroze: Suite de danses; Poème alpestre; "La Suisse est belle" Variations; Suite de ballet

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Composer and theoretician Émile Jaques-Dalcroze is best remembered today for the Dalcroze Eurhythmics, his pedagogical system linking music to movement. However, his amiable but highly derivative scores have largely been neglected due in part to changing tastes, but even more to their blandness. Attempts to resurrect Dalcroze's late-Romantic works may uncover some interesting curiosities, but if his other works are anything like the imitative pieces on this disc, then any revival will be short-lived. In the Suite de danses and the Suite de ballet, Dalcroze constantly points to his teachers Delibes and Fauré, but without matching the infectious melodies of the former or the emotional depth of the latter. Dalcroze's orchestration is competent, and his sense of rhythm and phrasing is impeccable. Yet these works still come off as second-rate ballet music anyone could have composed at the end of the nineteenth century. The mediocre Poème alpestre employs numerous Romantic clichés and effects, without any ingenuity or wit to save it from its bombastic devices. Only the Petites variations (13) sur "La Suisse est belle" are truly enjoyable, for Dalcroze's epigrammatic wit and lively orchestration make this set harmless fun. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra, led by Adriano, gives the music an enthusiastic run-through, and Sterling's recorded sound is good.

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