Review: BBC NOW - Dutilleux Impressions @ Hoddinott Hall
Now is the time of Henri Dutilleux. Celebrations around the world are taking place for the centenary of this French master.
This Debussy inspired composer has in turn inspired plenty of following composers and this is evident tonight.
As an opener, Eric Tanguy offered his Affettuoso, 'In memoriam Henri Dutilleux' to begin the dedications. This was a lively piece, contains three false stops and a work the full orchestra could sink their teeth into. Julian Anderson's Shir Hashirim is a setting of Song of Songs in Hebrew and is another dedication to Dutilleux. Elizabeth Atherton as always delivers with impeccable precision in the words of any language she speaks, handling Anderson's eccentric vocal gymnastics brilliantly.
In his Les Liaisons Magnetiques (the magnetic connections) Thierry Pecou scores a gripping composition filled with curious instruments. In some moments the flute appears to hyperventilate, the huge contrabass clarinet sounds jazz like and moody and a type of saxophone is stuck in the middle, with little recognition. This brittle piece slightly over stayed its welcome, but had enough experimental energy on its side for it to work.
The inevitable context of the next piece by Kenneth Hesketh was entitled Graven Image. Inspired by the juxtaposition of life and death in medieval art (in which a portrait or sculpture might feature a skull or a clock to remind one of mortality) this piece had a restraint to it, only powerful moments coming at a loss to the work. It was somehow too subtle and uninteresting for the loud moments to really matter. Perhaps you need the thought of death in your head as you listen...
Apart from Hesketh, each composer was present to take a bow after each of their pieces were played. With Dutilleux no longer with us, we would finally get to hear more of his music as the final work for this concert was his song cycle: Le Temps l'horloge (time and the clock). His individual French colouring is usually very attractive and the addition of a Gallic accordion and antiquated harpsichord, only proves this.
The poetry comes from Tardieu, Desnos and Baudelaire and tackle themes of memory and the passing of time. The latter writer talks of more common ground in his Enivrez-vous, as cries of "get drunk, get drunk constantly" ring out. Atherton returned for more fabulous singing, with her strident vocal range, which contracts with the orchestra perfectly. This centenary will put the spotlight on this most evocative composer and perhaps make him more of a household name.
We have not quite had our fill of Dutilleux just yet, as Cardiff now gives a symposium on the composer. There will no doubt, be some great talks and demonstrations throughout the day.
Rating: 3 stars
This concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2016 in Hear And Now. Available for 30 days after broadcast.
15th March 2016 sees The Riot Ensemble perform Dutilleux's Les Citations. All details on the concert here.
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Image Credit: WMC.org.uk