Paul Dukas' Symphony in C major is a marvel and a wonder -- a major late Romantic French orchestral work of enormous heroism, immense tragedy and tremendous energy that inexplicably has only rarely received a recording worthy of it. In the digital era, there's been Lawrence Foster's provincial account with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Jesús López-Cobos' flavorless account with the Cincinnati Symphony, Jean Fournet's colorless account with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin's characterful but not quite convincing account the Orchestral National de France, Yan Pascal Tortelier strong but unidiomatic account with the BBC Philharmonic, and, last but not least, this recording with Armin Jordan leading the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. It's got several things going for it: powerful and colorful playing from the Swiss orchestra which comes at least as close to idiomatic as Slatkin's Orchestre de France, clear and direct early digital sound from Erato which comes as close to warmth and honesty as early digital sound can, and, best of all, strong and expressive conducting from Armin Jordan. One might wish for more intensity and passion but one could not hope for more conviction: Jordan clearly believes in the piece, breathing life into its longing melodies, striving harmonies and driving rhythms, and his interpretation is arguably more convincing than any other digital recorded conductor's. Not surprisingly for a composer with a small orchestral output, the couplings on this disc are nearly the same as on all other Dukas recordings: his Fanfare and ballet La Peri plus his greatest hit, L'Apprenti Sorcier. Jordan's La Peri is more opulently sensual and overtly sexual than most while his L'Apprenti is more drolly witty and dryly comical than most.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphony in C major|