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Petitgirard: Les Douze Gardiens Du Temple, Etc

Release Date: 11/21/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8570138   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Laurent Petitgirard
Conductor:  Laurent Petitgirard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ljubljana Radio Symphony OrchestraBordeaux Aquitaine Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PETITGIRARD Les douze gardiens du temple. Poème pour grand orchestre à cordes. Euphonia 1 Laurent Petitgirard, cond; Bordeaux Aquitaine O; Ljubljana RSO 1 NAXOS 8.570138 (67:03) Live: Ljubljana 5/29/1992 1

In reviewing very favorably a new recording of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé with Laurent Petitgirard in his role as conductor leading the above named Read more Bordeaux orchestra, I read in the enclosed booklet note to that CD that Petitgirard (b. 1950) is also a composer of some repute. And here he turns up on another Naxos disc containing three of his own works.

I must begin by noting two curiosities, one, a conceit of this label; the other, a publishing puzzlement. Naxos has released this CD under its series designated “21st Century Classics.” Avoiding the obvious question of whether anything written in the last half-dozen years can truly be called “classic,” I would instead point out that only two of the works on this program, Les douze gardiens du temple , written in 2004, and Poème pour grand orchestre à cordes , written in 2002, can be said to belong to the 21st century. Euphonia is now well past the age of consent, having been written in 1989. As to the publishing puzzlement, I am at a loss to understand it. Clearly stamped on the CD itself are publication dates of 1986, 1997, and 1999, and an indication that the material on this Naxos disc was published by Le Chant du Monde. But 1986 predates the earliest composition, Euphonia , by three years; likewise, 1997 and 1999 also predate by a number of years the two later works, Les douze gardiens du temple and Poème pour grand orchestre à cordes , leading one to wonder how music not yet written finds its way into print.

Les douze gardiens du temple (“The Twelve Temple Guards”) is either a symphony in one movement or an extended tone poem that lasts for 26:30 minutes. Love it or hate it, you have to be amused when Petitgirard states that “the work uses five ancient Tibetan cymbals, instruments so dear to Claude Debussy, as if this temple had dreamt of sheltering a faun.” I suspect that Debussy’s mythological faun, were it to exist, upon hearing this piece would turn hide and run away from this temple as fast as it could.

Petitgirard tells us precious little else about the piece adding only “twelve guards and twelve notes, but no specific system, because there is nothing in this temple to prove that it is not one of tonality.” Having no inclination to try to prove a negative, I will simply say that the piece is decidedly modernistic, but not in an uncompromising avant-garde way that would put anyone off. In fact, much of the score is quite colorful, atmospheric, and cinematic, revealing Petitgirard’s experience writing for film and live theater—his opera, Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man , has been recorded and issued on Naxos 8.557608. Anyone who works in these media, if nothing else, has mastered the craft of scoring for various combinations of instrumental forces; and “The Twelve Temple Guards” amply demonstrates Petitgirard’s abilities as a brilliant orchestrator.

The Poem for Large String Orchestra is a whole different ball game. It is a haunting, at times surreal, at other times soaring lyrical lament that from one moment to the next calls to mind past influences as diverse as Barber’s Adagio for Strings , Mahler’s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony, and Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima . The passage beginning at 7:49, bestows such benevolent tenderness and calm on the turbulence that precedes it that here is a temple in which not only fauns but all God’s creatures great and small can dwell in peace. This is a gorgeous work that must be heard.

Euphonia , in three movements, is based, according to the note, on a futuristic tale by Hector Berlioz that tells of a jealous composer who, spurned by his lover, builds an ingeniously macabre trap to kill her and her new suitor—a dance pavilion worthy of Edgar Allan Poe in which the walls are activated by a mechanism that causes them to close in on the unaware dancing duo, slowly crushing them to death. The music that accompanies this horror story is enough to put you off elevators, bathrooms, closets, and other small enclosed spaces for at least a week. It’s effectively creepy and suggestive of the same lust and sexual frustration that finds an outlet in the heinous acts of violence we witness in a work like Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin , only Petitgirard’s score is even more malevolent. Truly chilling, Euphonia should come with a warning to the claustrophobic.

I didn’t much care for The Twelve Temple Guards , but the Poem and Euphonia are fantastic pieces. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Euphonia by Laurent Petitgirard
Conductor:  Laurent Petitgirard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ljubljana Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989 
Date of Recording: 05/29/1992 
Venue:  Live  Ljubljana 
Length: 28 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Les Douze Gardiens du Temple by Laurent Petitgirard
Conductor:  Laurent Petitgirard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bordeaux Aquitaine Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2004; France 
Venue:  Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France 
Length: 26 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Notes: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France (09/07/2005 - 09/09/2005) 
Poème for large string orchestra by Laurent Petitgirard
Conductor:  Laurent Petitgirard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bordeaux Aquitaine Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; France 
Venue:  Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France 
Length: 12 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Notes: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France (09/07/2005 - 09/09/2005) 

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