For this volume of his survey of the complete symphonies of Alexandre Tansman on Chandos, Italian conductor Oleg Caetani has switched from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, but the change is not all that noticeable. The first-rank provincial orchestra from Australia sounds remarkably like the first-rank provincial orchestra from Switzerland: amazingly polished from a technical point of view, but with little character from an interpretive point of view. Unfortunately, neither Caetani's interpretations nor Tansman's music show much character, either. Caetani is an excellent conductor with a great stick technique and an admirable sense of proportion, but he fails to find anything interesting in these four chamber symphonies. That may be because Tansman has not put much interest into them. Though clearly a gifted composer who mastered the dominant styles of 20th century modernist music, Tansman had little to say that could be considered original. One hears Honegger here, Hindemith there, and Stravinsky just about everywhere. These works are successfully put together; they are as well composed as anything by the above mentioned composers, but even Honegger had more on his mind and more in his music than Tansman. Listeners who love modernist symphonies may find these works attractive, but it's unlikely that they will prefer them to similar works by Honegger, Hindemith, and Stravinsky. Chandos' digital sound is big, but detailed, and clear, but colorful.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Symphonie de chambre, for oboe, horn, string orchestra, piano and percussion|
|Sinfonietta No. 1, for chamber orchestra|
|Sinfonietta No. 2, for chamber orchestra|