Assembled to mark the centenary of Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013), this collection of recordings, produced over a period of nearly 60 years, is unrivalled in its scope. Equally remarkable is its array of performers; among them are such dedicatees of the composer’s works as Mstislav Rostropovich, Renée Fleming, Seiji Ozawa and Paul Sacher. Quintessentially French, Dutilleux captured the imagination of audiences around the world with his iridescent, yet formally coherent scores, which engender narratives filled with memories and mystery.
22 April 2012 marks 100th anniversary of the birth of Kathleen Ferrier. Kathleen Ferrier was born on 22 April 1912 and died at the age of forty-one on 8 October 1953. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Kathleen Ferrier’s birth the DECCA legacy is brought together in a comprehensive 14-CD set with a bonus DVD. All the recordings have been remastered for this anniversary edition and will further demonstrate the unique qualities of this much-loved artist.
A solitaire in French is a single mounted jewel, a concept that seems less than apt for the rather hefty works recorded here by British pianist Kathryn Stott. But this fine recital holds together in another way: Ravel, who so often provides the temporal endpoint for traditional piano recitals, is here, to a greater or lesser extent, the launching point for the other three composers featured. Stott's reading of the neoclassical Le Tombeau de Couperin is beautifully precise and balanced, catching the economy of this Baroque-style suite to the hilt. That economy carries over into the later works, even the rarely performed Piano Sonata of Henri Dutilleux, a work that deftly fuses Ravel's sense of classical forms with a largely dissonant language. The opening Prelude and Fugue of Jehan Alain, actually two separate works that are reasonably enough combined here, is another seldom-played piece that makes an arresting curtain-raiser, and the final "Le baiser de l'Enfant Jésus" of Messiaen, part of the giant Vingt regards sur l'Enfant Jésus, is the splendid climax of the whole, its spiritual, dreamlike ascent at the end superbly controlled.
Since the end of the seventeenth century French composers have shown a particular skill and deftness of touch in writing for the flute. The instrument owes much of its prominence in French music of the twentieth century to the use made of it in orchestral colouring by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as to a group of highly gifted players associated in one way or another with the Paris Conservatoire. They include the soloist on this recording, Patrick Gallois, a pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal. This collection of works composed during the last sixty years ranges from Poulenc’s Sonata, marked by rhythmic vitality and a delicate vein of sentimentality, Messiaen’s Le merle noir, inspired by bird song, to Boulez’s Sonatine, which the composer himself has characterised as ‘organised delirium’.
To mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
The death of Henri Dutilleux on 22 May 2013 robbed the musical world of one of its most distinctive voices. Dutilleux was renowned for his exquisite craftsmanship and feel for instrumental colour, as well as for an extraordinary generosity of spirit that was invariably reflected in his music. Indeed, pianist Akanè Makita describes Dutilleux as a 'generous, sensitive man' who, when the artists involved in this recording wrote to him to tell him about the project, replied to say how 'greatly touched' and 'moved' he was. This warm and unexpected response from such an eminent composer inspired the musicians to put their all into the recording; the fact that it was completed on the day of Dutilleux's death makes it all the more fitting a tribute to him. The chamber works featured on this disc demonstrate Dutilleux's superb command of instrumental timbre – as flautist Andrea Oliva says, 'Dutilleux is brilliant at custom-designing the music to suit the specific characteristics of each instrument'.