Connesson: Orchestral Works

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COMPOSERS: Connesson
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Aleph; Une lueur dans l’âge sombre; Supernova; The Shining One
PERFORMER: Eric Le Sage (piano); Royal Scottish NO/Stéphane Denève
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 5076

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Guillaume Connesson (born 1970) is fascinated with the infinite, with the scarcely comprehensible or conceivable distances of space and time. The constituents of his ‘Cosmic Trilogy’, composed in reverse order to that in which they are now presented, deal with the dance of life and energy (Aleph), the ‘icy obscurity’ of the age of darkness following the birth of the universe (Une lueur: ‘A Glimmer in the Age of Darkness’) and the death of a star (Supernova).

The ideas here echo some of Messaien’s work, particularly the Turangalîla Symphony, but there is no discernible stylistic influence. Indeed, Connesson cites Dutilleux as a more crucial model within the French tradition, but there are many elements mixed into his music, which he describes as ‘a complex mosaic of the contemporary world’. Nonetheless, his compositions avoid sounding like a patchwork, and cohere musically and dramatically.

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Passages of reflection convince as effectively as visceral climaxes for full orchestra, and Connesson’s command of colour is as persuasive as his use of careering rhythms.The piano concerto, The Shining One, was inspired by a 1912 fantasy novel in which some humans are seized by ‘The Shining One’ and gripped by simultaneous ecstasy and horror. Conveying this paradox is a considerable challenge but Connesson makes a very creditable fist of it. Barry Witherden