Record of the day: Henri Dutilleux, "The Shadows of Time"

Record of the day: Henri Dutilleux, “The Shadows of Time”

Henri Dutilleux
The Shadows of Time (Cd Warner Classics 0927-49830-2)

Among living composers, the Frenchman Henri Dutilleux is one of the most celebrated: for decades it has been performed in all the major concert halls in the world by famous artists such as Mstislav Rostropovich, AnneSophie Mutter, Kurt Masur, Daniel Baremboim.

The influence he exerted on many composers of subsequent generations is notable, even if his work never gave rise to the birth of a real school. In his long career Dutilleux wrote a relatively short number of pieces due to the meticulousness and slowness with which he prepares his scores, the result of a very long process of elaboration; within his catalog stand out orchestral pages of vast dimensions such as the two symphonies composed in 1952 and 1959 and “Timbres, espace, mouvement”, from 1978.

This CD constitutes an excellent introduction to the fantasy world of Dutilleux, who (continuing the tradition of the school
French from Debussy to Messiaen) has its strong point in the great ability to manipulate orchestral colours. His harmonic language is very free, sometimes starting from twelve-tone suggestions but without any type of aridity, often mixing these ideas with expanded tonal harmonies.

Dutilleux's great writing elegance gives life to fascinating scores that envelop the listener in atmospheres full of surprises; it is certainly not a radical language or an arduous approach even without any type of neoclassical nostalgia or easy melodic winks; even if you don't particularly frequent contemporary music you will still have no difficulty immersing yourself in a vibrant world, often full of strong nocturnal suggestions, where every slightest quiver of the orchestra is able to tell ever-changing stories thanks to dynamic excursions that generate dozens of colors at each step.

The album collects one of the author's most successful recent works, “The Shadows of Time”, composed in 1997 for Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra who gave a perfect performance from every point of view: even the “Cello Concerto and orchestra” is magnificently performed by Arto Noras, while the Finnish Radio Orchestra under the leadership of Jukka-Pekka Saraste bravely turns to a more ancient page, “Mé-taboles” (1965), with dazzling orchestral colours.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.