Dutilleux: Timbres, espace, mouvement; L’arbre des songes

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COMPOSERS: Dutilleux
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Timbres, espace, mouvement; L’arbre des songes
PERFORMER: Isabelle van Keulen (violin)Bamberg SO/Marc Soustrot
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6491-2
Followers of Dutilleux have multiplied thanks to recordings of his ravishing and dynamic symphonies. His more recent orchestral music takes the French tradition inherited from Ravel and Roussel further on from its roots. The newsy release is a single-length issue of The Shadows of Time, premiered last year by the same musicians.


In his eighties, Dutilleux is becoming ever more compact and strongly spoken in his utterances – shades of Janacek. This work’s eruptive opening is revisited before the music gradually settles without losing its inherent restlessness. As ever its intensity stems from tonal and harmonic colouring, with a glowing brass sound and, in passing, three children’s voices. Dutilleux does not turn powerful feeling into aural aggression, and the Boston players relish the tangible beauty.

All the music in Koch’s collection shares with Shadows z way of being shaped less from themes than from shifting complexes of colour and energy. Timbres, espace, mouvement is the most spaciously manipulated, though Dutilleux has added a new interlude for cellos and celesta which is inevitably more elliptical even as it eases the abrupt transition between the two main parts.


L’arbre des songes— its concerto-like violin solo played with alertness and warmth – has a more extended lyrical character, though the thinking moves faster. Mystere de l’instantis positively epigrammatic, drawing wholeness like a visual composition from the balance of its contrasted sections. It stretches the Bamberg strings once or twice but they have the measure of the music’s energy and allure. Robert Maycock