A Delightful Dukas Disc, or Discs

Gee, am I having fun going back through the catalog titles of such cool audiophile labels as Chandos, the British label that has recorded so many premieres yet finds time to do sterling sessions of more familiar fare. I stumbled on their double-disc Dukas disc which contains most of the composers output for orchestra and solo piano. Dukas was very exacting and destroyed much of his work before it could be published. It is one of music’s great mysteries as to what those scores might have been. We do know that several operas and tone poems were scrapped. It seems odd for a man who penned one of the best known tone poems in the orchestral lexicon, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Thanks to Fantasia, Leopold Stokowski, and Mickey Mouse, this work is know to thousands who might not usually absorb classical music.

Dukas Tortelier

Yan Pascal Tortelier’s reading of this familiar piece with the Ulster Symphony is dramatic, colorful, and immaculately recorded. Even without Mickey on screen, one can imagine the lazy apprentice conjuring up a spell to have the broom tote the water buckets to fill the cistern, then see proceedings stop when the broom is chopped in two. Then the anguish as the screams of French horns and trumpets announce an army of brooms that gets completely out of control. Tortelier has rapidly become one of my two or three favorite versions. The double-disc Chandos reissue offers the colorful dance piece La Peri with its scintillating fanfare (successfully taken at a rapid clip by Tortelier), a sole symphony, and the Wagnerian style overture Polyeucte. But I discovered that you can buy the orchestral music on two separate CDs, available in used condition for a penny and not much more on Amazon.com. I’ve printed the cover of one of them here. You can find the discs at Amazon.com, the downloads at ClassicsOnlineHD.

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