Petitgirard’s music has come to more prominence with the popularity
of his opera Joseph
Merrick, the Elephant Man
itself issued on Naxos. I suppose
that I ought to clarify that statement, as it is Petitgirard’s
concert music that is coming to prominence. He has had a parallel
career writing music for TV (‘Maigret’) and Film (Otto Preminger’s
style is very French-sounding in a slightly old-fashioned way.
His lush scores seem to owe rather a lot to Gallic composers
of the first half of the 20th century
rather than Messiaen and Boulez.
ballet, Euphonia, was premiered in 1989 in Metz. The story
is about a composer who loves a woman whom he discovers to be
‘base’. The plot is set in the future and the composer sets
a trap for the woman that is triggered by music played as she
dances. The end result is that the woman, and all the dancers,
are crushed to death and the composer commits suicide. The musician
who was conducting the music, who also loves the woman, goes
mad. The tale is loosely based on a story by Berlioz. The ballet
is in three movements. The first, Xilef, describes the young composer and his obsessive love
for the woman, Mina. The second movement, Euphonia, seems to describe
the city of Euphonia and evokes Mina’s dance of seduction. The last movement,
La Piège, relates to the trap that the composer sets.
results are dramatic and attractive though I did not actually
manage to follow the plot through the score. This hardly matters,
as Petigirard’s music is seductive in its own right. The Ljubljana
Radio Symphony Orchestra copes very well and have become remarkably
comfortable with Petigirard’s style. There are occasional small
lapses but nothing that is jarring. All in all the performance
is very impressive.
other two items were recorded in Bordeaux in 2005, by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine.
Poème pour grand orchestre
à cordes was written
in 2002 and premiered by the French National Orchestra, conducted
by the composer. Les Douze Gardiens du Temple was written in 2004 and premiered in Paris in 2006.
Poème is an attractive, fluid piece with some effective writing
for strings. Les Douze
Gardiens du Temple (The Twelve Guards of the Temple) is a
long, rich piece. It uses a large orchestra - triple woodwind,
four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba and five percussionists
(instruments including four ancient Tibetan cymbals). Petitgirard
calls the piece ‘A Journey of Initiation for Full Symphony Orchestra’;
the twelve temple guardians relating to the twelve notes. The
journey unfolds in a leisurely manner with rich orchestration,
great fluidity and variation, but harmonically the piece sounds
very stable and not necessarily daring. There are many moments
when the composer’s film background creeps in, but that certainly
makes for an attractive and listenable score.
Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine do the scores ample justice
and the composer as conductor is certainly a talented guide
to his own music.
music on these discs won’t appeal if you are on the look out
for modernism. But if you seek lush music, attractively orchestrated
and evoking the sound-worlds of, perhaps, Honegger or Koechlin,
then this disc is for you.
by Hubert Culot