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.
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.
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.
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
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.
see also Review
by Rob Barnett