Notes and Editorial Reviews
Laurent Petitgirard, cond; Gérard Caussé (va);
Gary Hoffmann (vc);
Augustin Dumay (vn);
Polish Ch, Krokow;
Bordeaux Aquitaine O;
Monte Carlo PO;
Classical Polish Philharmonia
NAXOS 8.557602 (68:47)
Laurent Petitgirard (b. 1950) is probably best known (outside of his native France, anyway) as the composer of
Joseph Merrick, Elephant Man
(8.557608). Several other discs of his music on the Naxos label have already been reviewed in
. The latest addition to his discography consists of recordings previously available on the Le Chant du Monde label (with the exception of
, which was recorded in 2005).
The lineup of soloists is an impressive one. The securement of a fine violist, Gérard Caussé, is instrumental to the success of the
(2002). The composer (who provides the booklet notes for the present release) describes the work as “a chamber music piece, but with a large symphony orchestra” and it is easy to see his point. There is an intimacy of communication between the expressive, warm viola lines and the lushly textured orchestra. Petitgirard’s aural imagination is impressive, as at the sparkly moments around 8:34, his mode often overtly gestural, skills entirely fitting a composer known for his film music. Caussé dispatches the cadenza towards the end of the piece astonishingly well. There are gritty moments, too, which spring from a near-Straviskian awareness of the function of rhythm, but the prevailing atmosphere is, as befits the solo instrument, intensely lyrical.
The Cello Concerto and
were originally released in 1999 on LDC2781113, with a piece called
filling up the remaining disc space. The Cello Concerto has no program, but the darkening one experiences towards the end is a reaction to the death of one of the composer’s friends. The work was premiered by the present soloist, Gary Hoffmann, in 1994. Interesting that there are distinctly playful elements earlier on, and a (Bergian)
-like tinge to many of the harmonies. Lines tend to be rooted in the lyricism that similarly informs the chronologically later
. Hoffmann plays with great breadth of tone, shedding much light on the long, ruminative cadenza in the second movement. The heavy tread of the finale reveals, again, Petitgirard’s magnificent ear for texture.
Finally, a curiosity.
(1983-84) has to be the only choral work I have come across with text in Esperanto. A brief list of Esperanto words used and their English translations is supplied, providing hints as to the subject matter: God, departure, death, prayer, and three words to do with the idea of the foreign. The work runs in a continuous 21-minute span and describes first confrontation and then communion between violin and chorus. No need to introduce the violinist, Augustin Dumay, of course, whose sweet-toned melodic lines provide constant delight. The title refers to an outsider, “whether he be Peter Pan or the Buddha,” as the composer puts it, who leaves a message of peace. Heart-felt expression is all here, with anguished, dissonant harmonies playing against moments of the utmost charm. One can detect a certain religious fervor in the Scriabinesque mystical final pages. Dumay is a wonderful soloist, completely assured at every moment, his sweet tone in the violinistic stratosphere particularly memorable.
All three orchestras used on this disc seem to give their all for the conductor-composer. Worth investigating.
FANFARE: Colin Clarke
Works on This Recording
Dialogue for Viola and Orchestra by Laurent Petitgirard
Gérard Caussé (Viola)
Bordeaux Aquitaine Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Venue: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France
Length: 23 Minutes 13 Secs.
Notes: Franklin Hall, Bordeaux, France (09/07/2005 - 09/09/2005)
Concerto for Cello by Laurent Petitgirard
Gary Hoffman (Cello)
Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 09/1997
Venue: Garnier Hall, Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Length: 24 Minutes 25 Secs.
Concerto for Violin, Chorus and Orchestra "Le Légendaire" by Laurent Petitgirard
Augustin Dumay (Violin)
Cracow Polish Radio/TV Chorus,
Polish Classical Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 06/1986
Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Bydgoszcz, Poland
Length: 21 Minutes 9 Secs.
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