Armin Jordan: The French Symphonic Recordings

Reviewed on Mon 02 Jan, 2017

Jordan's 1982 Chabrier collection with the Orchestre National de France remains a genuine tonic, as does a sensitive Franck collection with the Basle SO, as well as superbly cogent accounts of Dukas's Symphony in C and seductive dance poem La Péri.

What better way to start a new year than to renew acquaintance with the substantial recorded legacy of that modest and under-appreciated master of the baton, Lucerne-born Armin Jordan (1932-2006). He served as principal conductor of the Suisse Romande Orchestra from 1985 to 1997, and the glowing acoustic of that orchestra's home, Geneva's Victoria Hall, greatly adds to the appeal of his fine surveys of Debussy and Ravel. His 1982 Chabrier collection with the Orchestre National de France remains a genuine tonic, as does a sensitive Franck collection with the Basle SO, as well as superbly cogent accounts of Dukas's Symphony in C and seductive dance poem La Péri. Elsewhere, we're treated to memorable collaborations with Jessye Norman in Chausson's Poème de l'amour et de la mer, and with Felicity Lott in a highly imaginative exploration of vocal works with chamber ensemble by Maurice Delage (1879-1961) and Maurice Jaubert (1900-1940). I'm also particularly happy to see the inclusion of Jordan's 1982 Monte-Carlo PO versions of Lekeu's Adagio and remarkably affecting Fantaisie sur deux airs populaires angevins – but much less happy about the reversed channels! No matter, I wouldn't want to deter prospective purchasers, especially when there's so much on these 13 well-filled CDs that will give lasting pleasure. Jordan's son, Philippe (now chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra), contributes a touching reminiscence in the booklet.
–Andrew Achenbach