Rumon Gamba: Vincent D'Indy Symphony 1 "Italienne"

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Conducted by Rumon Gamba with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

I. Rome - 00:00
II. Florence - 13:21
III. Venice - 19:16
IV. Naples - 26:00

For d'Indy, the late teens were crowded with unusually intense experiences of life. In 1869, as a reward for passing his Baccalauréat, his beloved grandmother sent him on an extended tour of Italy, which would prove the inspiration for his precocious apprentice piece, the Symphonie italienne in A minor, whose four movements bear the respective titles 'Rome', 'Florence', 'Venise', and 'Naples'. On the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War the following year, d'Indy enrolled in the National Guard in the defence of Paris, seeing active service. But his intention thereafter to devote himself entirely to music was temporarily frustrated by his father, who made him enrol at the Sorbonne as a law student. Neglecting the Code Napoléonfor clandestine musical studies with his boyhood teacher, Albert Lavignac, however, he succeeded in composing his own 'Italian Symphony'. On his grandmother's death in 1872 he received a valuable legacy which made him independent; abandoning the law, he enrolled at the Paris Conservatoire in October that year as a student of César Franck, who provided the disciplined instruction he urgently required.

The Introduction et Allegro, inspired by Rome, opens at a slow tempo (Andante maestoso), presenting melodic material to be fully exploited during the course of this large-scale movement in sonata form.

The Scherzo in B minor, celebrating Florence, opens with a staccato melody in the strings, dance-like in character. This constantly recurs in various keys and is consistently treated to close imitation in a rigid academic manner.

The Andante in C major, evoking Venice, reveals further thematic integration among the movements. Its main melody, in the style of a barcarolle, and in Italianate doubled thirds on flutes and clarinets, is derived from a distinctive little flute idea, likewise based on falling thirds, briefly heard towards the end of the recapitulation in 'Rome'.

Naples is the subject of the Final (Saltarelle) which in its rhythmic vitality and joie de vivre owes something to Mendelssohn's 'Italian' Symphony. The movement is composed in a conventional sonata form structure, its initial repeatednote horn fanfare leading directly to the effervescent A minor first subject in the first violins.