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Éric TANGUY (b.1968)
Cello Concerto No.1 (1994-95) [29:34]
Cello Concerto No.2 (2000) [27:54]
Anne Gastinel (cello)
Orchestre National de France/Alain Altinoglu
rec. Auditorium Olivier Messiaen, Maison de Radio France, Paris, October 2006 and April 2007
NAÏVE V5078 [57:41] 
Experience Classicsonline

Éric Tanguy was born in 1968 and studied successively with Horatiu Radulescu, Ivo Malec and Gérard Grisey. A serial award winner he has been composer-in-residence at Lille and with the Orchestre de Bretagne and has a large portfolio of compositions to his credit – one of the most prolific composers of his generation in France in fact. 

The First Cello Concerto was completed in 1995. The indication Intense gives one some indication of the demanding nature of its opening movement. Urgent and sometimes brutal the writing is unequivocally laid out – writing moreover of a distinctly post-Dutilleux, indeed post-Grisey kind. It’s in the oscillatory, reflective lacuna of the slow movement though – Dolce - that a different side of Tanguy’s writing becomes evident. Still more indeed by the time we reach the finale which embeds a mysterious, static slow central panel into the otherwise fanfare-inspired vitesse with which it began. 

Vital and imaginative though this concerto is it tends to be overshadowed by the more embracing vitality and expression of the later work. This was written for Rostropovich. Here Tanguy quite explicitly explores the relationship between soloist and orchestra quite as much as ensuring an architecturally satisfying balance between questions of projection and introversion. He thrives on expressions such as Très mystérieux – an element we saw encoded in the finale of the First Concerto - and Passionné and frequently sends the emotive pressure of this work to near-extremes. 

Admirable though is the control of the expressive long lines of the opening movement animated by its vital eruptive material. The urgency and tension of the second movement – a kind of super-heightened Scherzo (this is a four movement work) never turns brittle, whilst the reflective, refractive slow movement never elides into reflection for reflection’s sake. The finale is alive with tensile vigour. The dialogue between solo cello and orchestral forces is replete with repeated phrases, distorted phrases, absorbed phrasing - which are then turned in on themselves. I’ve not stressed the point but Tanguy’s work is not at all opaque; it’s full of colour and sonorous instrumental textures and combinations. 

The performances sound as committed and controlled as one could ever wish to find. Gastinel plunges into the depths and complex mechanics of the cello’s lines with tremendous confidence, abetted by Altinoglu’s expert marshalling of his forces. Neither of the concertos guarantees an easy aural ride but they offer powerful solutions to the solo/orchestral dilemma and reward the attentive listener with some moments of real beauty. 

Jonathan Woolf 

see also Review by Rob Barnett


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