Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seattle Symphony excels with new Dutilleux release

This is the second of three planned releases of Henri Dutilleux's music by the Seattle Symphony. The first volume demonstrated that the symphony, under the direction of Ludovic Morlot, understands Dutilleux's idiosyncratic musical world. And this release simply reconfirms that impression. The orchestra plays with precision, energy, and -- more importantly -- delicacy.

 The release opens with M├ętaboles. It's is a real showpiece for any orchestra, and Seattle is more than up to the challenge. Each movement features a different section of the orchestra, with the final movement bringing them all together. But, as the title suggests, change is everywhere. The music shifts and changes constantly, creating a wonderfully complex yet inviting world for the listener to enter.

Dutilleux's Violin Concerto is subtitled "L'arbre des Songes" or "Tree of Dreams." The work is sometimes atonal, but maintains a dreamlike, impressionistic quality. Like a tree, the music seems to grow organically out of the opening material, branching off in different directions, but all relating back to the source.

Symphony No. 2 "Le double" divides the standard symphony orchestra into two groups: a small chamber orchestra in front, and the rest of the orchestra in back. The two groups aren't there for simple contrast, however. While the small ensemble sometimes echoes the music of the larger, both seem to operate semi-independently, as if they were in different dimensions.

It would be fascinating, I think, to hear each ensemble independently. I suspect the music would sound like a self-contained work. But it's the combination of the two, of course, that gives the Symphony its emotive strength.

I enjoyed volume one as much as I enjoyed this release. So I'll be eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this important series.

Henri Dutilleux: M├ętabole; Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 2
Seattle Symphony; Ludovic Morlot, conductor; Augustin Hadelich, violin
Seattle Symphony Media
SSM 1007

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