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Dutilleux: D'ombre Et De Silence / Robert Levin


Release Date: 06/08/2010 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 001431502   
Composer:  Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert LevinYa-Fei Chuang
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



DUTILLEUX Petit Air à dormir debout. Piano Sonata. Au Gré des ondes: Prélude en berceuse; Improvisation. Blackbird. Tous les chemins … mènent à Rome. Figures de résonances. 1 Mini-Prélude en éventail. 3 Préludes. Bergerie. Au Gré des ondes Robert Levin, 1 Ya-Fei Chuang (pn) ECM B0014315-02 Read more (75:29)


The husband-and-wife duo Robert Levin and Ya-Fei Chuang are reviewed elsewhere in this issue in music by Mendelssohn (the three-disc box Edition Klavier-Festival Ruhr ). Here they are in some cutting-edge music by a composer whose importance really does need to be fully acknowledged and re-evaluated. This disc comes into direct competition with John Chen’s conspectus of the solo works on Naxos (positively reviewed by myself in Fanfare 30:6). Aided by a superior recording, impeccable booklet notes and a pedigree that includes sustained contact with the composer, Levin’s disc moves into clear first place.


The shorter pieces oscillate between music designed to provide interludes in radio broadcasts ( Prélude en berceuse, Improvisation ) and pieces for young children ( Blackbird, Petit air a dormir debout, Tous les chemins … ). The reason for the appendix of all six of Au Gré des ondes is that this represents a compromise. Initially Dutilleux only sanctioned the inclusion of two of the set (heard within the program proper), but eventually he allowed them all to be heard, as long as they were relegated to the disc’s end.


The brief Petit air à dormir debout , a sweet utterance that makes occasional oblique reference to Debussy while maintaining its own sparse universe, acts as the disc’s lead-in. The Piano Sonata of 1946–48 that follows was the composer’s op. 1 and is one of his most recorded pieces. Levin provides a new top recommendation for the discography, though. His immersion in Dutilleux’s sound world seems complete and he has the ability to move between a more aggressive sound and one that can only be described as melting (as he demonstrates perfectly toward the end of the active first movement). The nocturnal sonorities of “Lied” seem almost magical here, especially when the piano sound is so perfectly caught by ECM’s engineers (the disc was recorded at Auditorio Radio Svizzera, Lugano, in December 2008; the Tonmeister was Markus Heiland). Irregular, spiky writing in octaves, so characteristic of Dutilleux (and a major component of the piano contribution to the Flute Sonata) informs the finale, a chorale with variations that sometimes calls César Franck to mind. Levin generates substantial excitement toward the end, but his script is not to impress. His intelligence seems to direct his abilities toward doing justice to Dutilleux’s immaculately crafted music.


The deceptive simplicity and innocence of “Prélude en berceuse” and “Improvisation” from Au gré des ondes (1946) operate as the perfect post-Sonata breather. Blackbird (1950) is one of the more famous of Dutilleux’s shorter works, its bird imitations immediately placing it alongside Messiaen (although Dutilleux is decidedly jauntier); the chordal structures of the delicate Tous les chimins … mènent à Rome again point to this composer.


The stabbing gestures of Résonances (1965) lead to a work of more acerbic nature. The Figures de résonances (1970/76) is for two pianos. It is a work of some importance, despite its brevity (there are four movements, the longest of which is 2:33). Construction and syntax are tightly organized. Levin and Chuang play with an innate understanding of the language.


The three preludes were written in 1973 (No. 1, “D’Ombre et de silence”), 1977 (No. 2, “Sur un même accord”), and 1988 (No. 3, “Le Jeu des contraires”). The mystery of the first, so wonderfully conveyed by Levin, and the extended explorations of the last (and longest) provide a challenge for the listener. Again, a brief piece (or pastoral piping) aims to provide respite ( Bergerie , 1946) before the complete, six-movement version of Au gré des ondes . Heard in its entirety, the second movement, “Claquettes,” is a delightful separator between the “Prélude en berceuse” and the “Improvisation” heard earlier in the disc. Could any music be more impeccably French than the fourth movement, “Mouvement perpétuel”? Levin is superbly light-fingered here. If the “Hommage à Bach” seems to work less well, the final “Étude” sparkles.


Rewarding listening, and another clear winner from the enterprising ECM label.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke
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Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Piano by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; France 
2. Au gré des ondes: Prélude en berceuse by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946 
3. Au gré des ondes: Improvisation by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946 
4. Blackbird by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; France 
5. Tous les chemins... mènent à Rome by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; France 
6. Résonnances by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; France 
7. Figures (4) de résonnances for 2 Pianos by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano), Ya-Fei Chuang (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1970-1976; France 
8. Mini-prélude en évantail by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
9. Preludes (3) for Piano by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1973-1988; France 
10. Bergerie by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; France 
11. Au gré des ondes by Henri Dutilleux
Performer:  Robert Levin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; France 

Sound Samples

Petit air à dormir debout
Piano Sonata: I. Allegro con moto
Piano Sonata: II. Lied
Piano Sonata: III. Choral et variations
Au gré des ondes: I. Prélude en berceuse
Au gré des ondes: III. Improvisation
Les Contemporains / Series 2: Blackbird
Tous les chemins ? mènent à Rome
Résonances
Figures de résonances: Figures de résonances I
Figures de résonances: Figures de résonances II
Figures de résonances: Figures de résonances III
Figures de résonances: Figures de résonances IV
Mini-prélude en éventail
3. Préludes pour piano: I. D'ombre et de silence
3. Préludes pour piano: II. Sur un même accord
3. Préludes pour piano: III. Le jeu des contraires
Bergerie
Au gré des ondes: I. Prélude en berceuse
Au gré des ondes: II. Claquettes
Au gré des ondes: III. Improvisation
Au gré des ondes: IV. Mouvement perpetuel
Au gré des ondes: V. Hommage à Bach
Au gré des ondes: VI. Étude

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