Another Excellent Dutilleux Disc, This Time From Naxos

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Henri Dutilleux wrote very little music, yet he is being recorded as though he were one of the great masters, and just as popular. Certainly the quality of his output was extremely high, and as far as popularity goes, if anyone deserves it, he does. Still, I can’t help but wonder at all the attention. He has also been very well served on disc. There are very few poor Dutilleux recordings, though of course some are better than others. This is one of the good ones, for sure.

The Second Symphony, for two unequal ensembles, gets relatively few recordings, perhaps because of the difficulties of balance and texture that it poses. Darrell Ang leads a bold, gutsy performance, swiftly paced and played with great confidence. There are moments when the harpsichord gets buried in the texture, but I expect this is what also happens in live performance. Overall, it’s a fine interpretation.

Timbres, espace, mouvement (or “The Starry Night”) is a wonderfully atmospheric meditation on Van Gogh’s famous painting, in two well-constrated movements plus an interlude between them (added later). Mystère de l’instant, in contrast, is a series of tiny snapshots for strings and percussion, with a prominent part for solo cimbalom. Dutilleux evidently liked “twangy” sonorities, and used them with unflagging imagination. Once again the performances make all the right points of transparency, fluidity, and expressive precision. The sonics are similarly vivid.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None for this coupling

    Symphony No 2 "Le Double"; Timbres, espace, mouvement; Mystère de l'instant

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