Dutilleux: Piano Sonata; Préludes; Au gré des ondes; Figures de résonances; Résonances; ‘Tous les chemins… mènent à Rome’; Bergerie; Blackbird

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Dutilleux
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Piano Sonata; Préludes; Au gré des ondes; Figures de résonances; Résonances; ‘Tous les chemins… mènent à Rome’; Bergerie; Blackbird
PERFORMER: Anne Queffélec, Christian Ivaldi (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VC 5 45222 2
The principal piano works of Dutilleux – Sonata, Three Preludes and Figures de résonances – provide particularly compelling listening, commanding attention throughout. They have been recorded before, notably by Geneviève Joy, the composer’s wife, on Erato, with Dutilleux himself on second piano for Figures de résonances. As with Peter Pears for Britten or Yvonne Loriod for Messiaen, Joy is the defining (but not definitive) interpreter of these works. It is essential, therefore, that any newcomer offers a different perspective.

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By such criteria, Anne Queffélec achieves a qualified success. Although timings can be an unreliable means of comparison, she takes longer over every movement of each work. In many places, such as the final movement of the Sonata, this provides welcome space for the music to breathe.

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Elsewhere, particularly the first movement of the same work, the drama has been neutered. Instead of the usual rush of blood at the climax, there is a tame trickle. Queffélec is at some points enlightening and at others, just slower. The pianos are also distinctly unresonant in the second movement of Figures de résonances. The inclusion of relatively rare early pieces is welcome, but it should be noted that they are the merest shavings from the composer’s workbench. Christopher Dingle