D'Indy's Second Symphony; re-viewing Debussy's Martyre

Today, some music.

InvertedNinthChord posts the score of the Symphony #2 in B-flat Major by Vincent d’Indy, Op. 57, 1903, Performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Conducted by Jean-Luc Tingaud.

Listeners may be familiar with the earlier Symphony on a French Mountain Air for piano and orchestra. (There is an early "Italian Symphony" in A, no Opus, that is now regarded as #1.) But the B-flat symphony, as 'French'(rather than Viennese or German) music, seems particularly distinct. Its slower sections, as in the opening, hint at Debussy-like impressionism with use of the whole tone scale and parallel harmonies, with a haunting effect especially in the woodwinds (something that could possibly interest the just intonation advocates). This is also the case in the slow movement. But it will often work its way up to triumphant post-romanticism, as at the end of the first movement and then in the final coda. Often there are original harmonic twists even to the very end, where the melodic line reaches one whole step above the tonic to settle back with a final thrust, as if to suggest consummation. This is sensuous music.

The finale, moreover, is a complete introduction and fugue,  The basic theme is slow and makes for easier counterpoint, but the lively motives are then superimposed. 

Some years ago I had posted a discussion of Claude Debussy's strong>The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (Le Martyre de saint Sebastien), a mystery play (essentially oratorio with some spoken passages) in five movements, concert music running about 70 minutes (the play runs over two hours), chronicling the life of a 3rd century martyr who escaped death once and supposedly could protect people from plague, an ironic idea now. I think I have the Bernstein (probably Sony) CD.  The entire work is much more effective than the orchestral suite extracted from it.  The impressionism is balanced with the ability to build to impressive climaxes, especially at the very end.

(Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 3 PM EDT by John W Boushka)