Dalbavie: Variations orchestrales sur une oeuvre de Janácek

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WORKS: Variations orchestrales sur une oeuvre de Janácek; Sinfonietta; Rocks under the Water
PERFORMER: Monte-Carlo PO/Marc-André Dalbavie

Though Marc-André Dalbavie (born 1961) has moved on from his early associations with the spectralists and has now embraced many other influences, like most French composers he remains fascinated by musical colour.
This new disc, recorded under the composer’s own baton, gives a good overview of his recent style, with three works dating from between 2002 and 2006.
Premiered in Tokyo and dedicated to Henri Dutilleux, the most recent of these is the Variations orchestrales sur une oeuvre de Janácek. It is based on the fourth movement of the Czech composer’s piano suite In the Mists, a piece that is set out complete twice during the course of Dalbavie’s 22-minute score.
Dalbavie’s own music is dominated by shimmering, sustained sonorities – including electronically manipulated sounds – and the occasional outburst, and might remind some listeners of a latter-day Tapiola.
It is not to Sibelius, though, but again to Janácek that Dalbavie pays homage in his Sinfonietta.
As that title implies, the piece is full of gathering fanfares, and the short and distinctive scherzo gets a virtuosic performance from the Monte-Carlo orchestra.
Rocks under the Water was composed for the inauguration of a Frank Gehry building in Cleveland, and uses some Buddhist elements to ethereal effect. John Allison