There have been many recordings of Vincent d'Indy's Istar, several recordings of his Diptyque Méditerranéen, a few recordings of his Choral varié for saxophone and orchestra, and no recordings in digital sound of his Third Symphony, until this one by Rumon Gamba and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The third volume in the conductor and orchestra's survey of the complete orchestral works of the French fin de siècle composer for Chandos, this one is as well-conducted, well-played, and well-recorded as the two earlier volumes. Unfortunately, the music is rarely as good as the music on the earlier volumes. Istar comes off best, a heady bit of oriental sensuality that gets the deluxe treatment from the English conductor and Icelandic musicians, but the selections rapidly fall off after that. The Diptyque Méditerranéen is cheerful and colorful but thematically and harmonically uninteresting, the Choral varié is richly scored but texturally turgid and emotionally torpid, and the Third Symphony, despite being subtitled "Sinfonia Brevis," is pompous, pretentious, and thoroughly banal. Gamba and his players do all that can reasonably be asked of them, and if the results are disappointing, well, so is the music. Chandos' digital sound is rich, ripe, and deep.
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