> Suzanne GIRAUD [HC]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Suzanne GIRAUD (born 1958)
To One in Paradise (1999)a
Envoûtements [I] (1996)b
Envoûtements II (1997)c
Envoûtements III (1997)d
Envoûtements IV (1997)e

Sylvie Sullé (mezzo-soprano)a; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France; Laurent Cuniota; Irvine Arditti (violin)b; Clara Novakova (flute)c; Jean Geoffroy (marimba)c; Ensemble Accroche-Note (Françoise Kubler, soprano; Arnaud Angster, clarinets; Emmanuel Séjourné, percussion)d; Arditti Quartete
Recorded : Radio France, salle Olivier Messiaen, September 1999a; Studio 18, February 2000b; Studio 106, February 2000e; Studio 103, May 2000d; Studio 103, September 2000c
MFA 216037 [61:09]

Suzanne Giraud studied in Strasbourg and later at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. She also worked with Hugues Dufourt and Tristan Murail, and attended master classes at G.R.M. and IRCAM. In the late 1980s she met and befriended Giacinto Scelsi. She was awarded a scholarship from the Accademia Chigiana di Sienna which enabled her to study with Franco Donatoni. She also stayed repeatedly in Darmstadt where she met Morton Feldman, Brian Ferneyhough and Wolfgang Rihm. Though all these composers had Ė in one way or another Ė some influence on her making as a composer, she nevertheless managed to remain her own self and to forge her own style. All the pieces recorded here provide for a comprehensive survey of her musical output so far. No matter how demanding or complex it may be, i.e. from the performerís point of view, Giraudís music is immediately appealing. Some literary or extra-musical stimulus often fires the composerís imagination in writing works that reflect her personal experience, be it purely musical or of a more intimate nature as is the case in To One in Paradise. She always finds some subtle, poetic way to communicate her innermost vision. This is undoubtedly her most endearing quality, i.e. by judging from the works recorded here.

In 1996 Suzanne Giraud composed Envoûtements for Irvine Arditti. This fairly long, technically demanding but very imaginative fantasy in several contrasted sections (which the composer refers to as "circles") became the first of an on-going series of similarly titled pieces, the number then referring to the number of players involved. (At the time of writing, the last piece in that series is Envoûtements V for guitar and string quartet which has recently received its first performance.) So, Envoûtements II (1997) is for alto flute and marimba, and is again a free fantasy evoking (pace the composer) witchcraft. The technical demands put on the players are enormous, though never gratuitously so, but the musical results are nevertheless very rewarding. Envoûtements III, also from 1997, for soprano, clarinets (one player) and percussion, sets a poem by Jeremy Darke, a British poet living in Paris. The "circles" here reflect the various moods of the text and thus acquire a greater formal freedom, though the overall outline of the piece roughly resembles that of the earlier Envoûtements. Envoûtements IV of 1997 was written for and first performed by the Arditti Quartet. (It is actually Giraudís second work for string quartet, written 13 years after her first essay Regards sur le Jardin díEros of 1984.) The four "circles" of the pieces are more in the nature of loosely traditional movements, though the whole still plays without break and is formally free.

The most recent work here is the beautiful orchestral scena for mezzo-soprano and orchestra on a poem by Poe, To One in Paradise, completed in 1999. This beautifully moving piece is, I believe, a fine example of Suzanne Giraudís utterly lyrical nature. Though written under deeply personal circumstances, To One in Paradise is a warmly lyrical and expressive work of great subtlety, delicacy and poetic insight. A real masterpiece on all counts.

As far as I can judge, these carefully prepared, dedicated performances are excellent and serve this composer well.

Suzanne Giraudís music was new to me but I know that I will be looking forward to hearing any new work of hers.

Hubert Culot


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