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Symphonie cévenole, op. 25, for piano and orchestra (Vincent d’Indy)




Assez lent. Modérément animé – Assez modéré, mais sans lenteur – Animé


Composed in 1886, the Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français (“Symphony on a French Mountain Air”) was premièred in Paris at the Concerts Lamoureux on 20 March 1887. It was inspired by the composer’s beloved Cévennes region, hence its alternative title, Symphonie cévenole. In his youth d’Indy had stayed regularly at Chabret manor house (his aunt’s home near Boffres in Ardèche). The composition of the work coincided with the building of the Château des Faugs, where d’Indy was to spend his summers from 1890 onwards. The symphony is cyclical in conception, with a principal theme taken from a shepherd’s song that d’Indy had heard while walking in the Cévennes mountains between Saint-Péray and Toulaud. D’Indy fits in here with the French “regionalist” movement that was illustrated in particular by Bourgault-Ducoudray, Bordes, Ropartz, Séverac, Maurice-Emmanuel and Canteloube. The evocative melody is heard first from the cor anglais at the beginning of the opening movement. Wishing perhaps to avoid the overly connoted term “symphony”, d’Indy originally conceived the work as a fantaisie for piano and orchestra. He was not the only French composer of that time to be drawn to the idea of integrating a keyboard instrument into the orchestra: César Franck did so with Les Djinns and his Variations symphoniques (both including the piano and premièred on 15 March 1885 and 1 May 1886, respectively), and Saint-Saëns integrated the organ into his Symphony no. 3 (first heard in London on 19 May 1886, presented in Paris on the following 9 January). In d’Indy's work, the piano adds a liquid element to the first two movements and a scintillating, carillon-like touch to the last one, colouring the orchestra and playing a prominent part in the scoring while being entirely embedded in the symphonic structure.

    Person - 1
  • INDY, Vincent d' (1851-1931)
  • Themes - 2
  • Concert – Les sociétés de concert au XIXe siècle
  • Genre – The Symphony in 19th-century France