Dusapin: Watt; Galim; Celo

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LABELS: Naïve Montaigne
WORKS: Watt; Galim; Celo
PERFORMER: Sonia Wieder-Atherton (cello), Juliette Hurel (flute), Alain Trudel (trombone); Montpellier National Orchestra/Pascal Rophé
Born in 1955, Pascal Dusapin cites Edgard Varèse as his musical grandfather, though the influence of the great modernist was mediated through that of Xenakis, with whom Dusapin worked in Paris. Like both those forebears, Dusapin’s own music gets to grips with the very stuff of sound, and that fascination with sonority (beautifully laid out in the recording) is heard in each of these three concertos, taken from seven such works he has composed since 1991.


The three differ markedly in stature and in musical weight. Only Celo, for cello and full orchestra (1996), corresponds at all to conventional three-movement concerto form, though Dusapin modifies the soloist’s sound by asking her (the tremendously intense Sonia Wieder-Atherton) to begin without any rosin on her bow or strings, significantly reducing the weight of tone she can produce. From the second movement on, she is allowed to play normally, so that the solo line gradually acquires more weight, producing a striking physical analogue to the way in which the whole work gradually focuses its musical intensity.


The single-movement Galim, for flute and string orchestra (1998), is much slighter, but the echoes of orientalism in its flurries and florescences are immediately attractive, as the soloist Juliette Hurel weaves her way elegantly in and out of the webs woven by the strings. But there is nothing elegant about Watt, a 1994 trombone concerto crammed with dramatic and striking effects – at one point the soloist has to sing and play through his instrument simultaneously, in a grotesque duet with a piccolo, but Alain Trudel takes such things in his stride. Andrew Clements