COMPOSERS: Henri Dutilleux
LABELS: Deutsche Grammophon
ALBUM TITLE: Dutilleux: Correspondances
WORKS: Correspondances; Tout un monde lointain…; The Shadows of Time
PERFORMER: Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Anssi Karttunen (cello); Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: 479 1180
Esa-Pekka Salonen prefaces this disc by claiming that ‘Everything Dutilleux has written in the last decades belongs to the category of masterpiece.’ The disc itself justifies the claim utterly. Now just past his 97th birthday, the composer is given to regretting that he hasn’t written more, but few if any other music lovers share this regret. Here is an oeuvre, not only of precise, masterly workmanship, but infused with emotional warmth and, beyond that, with profound passions, evidenced not least in Dutilleux’s sympathy for the persecuted and dispossessed. Who else could, as he does in The Shadows of Time, marry a movement ‘in the spirit of Gregorian chant’, featuring three boy soloists lamenting the fate of the Jews in World War II, to four other purely orchestral movements that are entirely contemporary in style? The result is shattering.
In this, the first commercial recording of the song cycle Correspondances, Barbara Hannigan is simply superb – faultless pitching, crystal clear words, a shining tone and total empathy with the composer’s message. In the Cello Concerto Anssi Karttunen responds to both the delicacy and the fury; and in the movement called ‘Regard’ (Dutilleux wanted to call it ‘Vertige’, but then discovered this was the trade name of a famous perfume) he sails through the stratospheric writing even more securely than Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom the work was written. Throughout, Salonen and the orchestra do the composer’s music proud. Bravo to all for a quite exceptional disc.