“Literature, the sea and Brittany were recurrent sources of inspiration throughout the life of Joseph-Guy Ropartz. Like Bax, he had been a poet in his twenties but for Pêcheur d'Islande ('Iceland Fisherman', 1890-91) and Oedipe àColone (1914) he turned to Pierre Loti and Sophocles respectively. Although never a seaman like Roussel, the marine influence is strong in Pêcheur d'Islande and the Rhapsodie for cello and orchestra (1928), both of which make use of folksongs from Brittany, and in his best known work, the huge Third Symphony.
For those unfamiliar with Ropartz's style – and there are quite a few discs devoted to his music – he was much influenced by Franck and Fauré.
There are Magnard resonances, too, though Ropartz was the more intuitive, less rigorous creator. In Pêcheur d'Islande, for example, the opening 'La mer d'Islande' ('Iceland's Sea') is subtitled 'Symphony' but there is little genuinely symphonic in the music. Rather, as in the central 'Scène d'amour', the music is evocative in a fantasia- like way. The lively finale, 'Les danses', however, does illustrate the protagonists' wedding.
There is more of the descriptive in the suite from his incidental music to Oedipe à Colone. In places the music even hints that Brittany's shores are lapped by the Aegean! The Orchestre de Bretagne's performances are full of verve and sound well prepared, and they and Karabits accompany the lyrical and smoothtoned Henri Demarquette nicely in the Rhapsodie.
Timpani's sound is spacious and warm.”