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VINCENT D’INDY: Piano Works, Vols. 1 & 2

Sch_CrPoëme des Montagnes, Op. 15,
Tableaux de Voyage, Op. 33,
Thème varié, fugue et chanson, Op. 85.

Michael Schäfer

Genuin: GEN 87083

This is a pleasing disc of amiable music in the Franckian vein, but less intense than his mentor's better known piano works.

Best remembered for his Symphony on a French Mountain Air for piano and orchestra, which used to be given quite often in my younger years, Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931) is now so neglected that Michael Schäfer's disc caught my eye as one to explore.

In his Mountain Poem d'Indy illustrates a simple love story in a mountain landscape, with an idee fixe linking the several movements. The thirteen pieces documenting a wlaking tour in the mountains include several miniatures which might go down well to vary regular recital fare. The variations allude directly to Franck in their title and are built from a single motif to explore 'the complete range of musical possibilities'.

I have long wanted to hear a good account of D'Indy's large scale Sonata Op 63, which I have enjoyed trying to read at the piano over the years, sufficiently engaged that I made an effort to persuade some up-coming pianists to consider taking it up; e.g. Ashley Wass, whose debut disc was of Franck, and Alasdair Beatson who had impressed in Dutilleux's sonata. [I then researched for recordings but discovered only "a useful, if sonically limited, Midi recording by Thomas Lefeldt to listen to with the Durand score" !]

This Vol 1 is well produced in a sympathetic acoustic; I was delighted to read in the booklet (nice tree !) that a Volume 2, to include two sonatas, is for imminent release, and I look forward to receiving it when available.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Piano Works, Vol. 2

Petite Sonate dans la forme classique op.9.
Piano Sonata in E Minor op.63.
Fantaisie sur un vieil air de Ronde francaise op.99.

Michael Schäfer


This lives up to hopes and expectations. The 43 minutes Op 63 sonata, D'Indy's opus summum (1908) is in the same league as the Hammerklavier, Brahms' Op 5 and Dukas' E minor, and Schäfer justifies its exhumation.

Difficult, but eschewing "ostentatious grandstanding" it goes for "highly shaded, refined and intricate harmony".

A commendable niche specialisation by an excellent, thoughtful pianist.