Barraqué: Concerto; Le temps restitué; … au delà du hasard; Chant après chant; Étude; Séquence; Piano Sonata

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COMPOSERS: Barraqué
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Concerto; Le temps restitué; … au delà du hasard; Chant après chant; Étude; Séquence; Piano Sonata
PERFORMER: Stefan Litwin (piano); Vokalensemble NOVA Wien, Klangforum Wien/Sylvain Cambreling, Jürg Wyttenbach, Peter Rundel
CATALOGUE NO: 999 569-2
Praised by Messiaen as being one of the most talented postwar serial composers, Jean Barraqué’s distinctive voice is too often overlooked. His official output of just seven works may be numerically modest, but the pieces are far from diminutive, combining the brave new world aesthetic with a lyrical range and emotional depth often lacking in his contemporaries.

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Barraqué was ‘a rebel’, but the most seditious aspect of this fervent advocate of the modernist ideology was, perhaps, his ultimately Romantic sensibility. It is reflected in his preoccupation with mortality, notably in the works based on Hermann Brochnovel The Death of Virgil. Permeated by an anger that comes from teetering on the brink, these pieces are, nonetheless, curiously affirming.

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The release of his complete works, marking the 70th anniversary of Barraqué’s birth, and the 25th of his death, should be applauded, not least for including the composer’s brief foray into musique concrète, Étude. It is one of the more captivating examples of the genre, though what was once brave and new now sounds endearingly quaint. Other highlights are the stunning accounts of … au delà du hasard and Séquence, and, with the enterprising Klangforum Wien providing the backbone, performances are excellent. Christopher Dingle