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Luciano BERIO (1925 – 2003)
Chemins IV (1975) [9:17]
Fourteen Duos (1979/83) [10:17]
Récit (1995) [15:50]
Pierre BOULEZ (b. 1925)
Dialogue de l’ombre double (1985, arr. 2001) [17:35]
Anton WEBERN (1883 – 1945)
Quartett Op.22 (1930) [5:33]
Vincent David (saxophones); Ensemble Quaerendo Invenietis/Renaud Déjardin (Chemins, Recit)
rec. Espace de Projection de l’IRCAM, Paris, 12-14 October 2007
AEON AECD0860 [56:32]
Experience Classicsonline

Berio has the lion’s share in this release centred on Vincent David’s virtuosity and musicality. It must nevertheless be noted that some of Berio’s works recorded here were not originally written for saxophone and are presented in arrangements. Chemins IV is the earliest work although it is heard in an arrangement for soprano saxophone. Berio actually composed several works, such as Chemins II (viola and 9 players) and Chemins III (viola and orchestra) sharing that title and based on some of his Sequenze for solo instruments. Chemins IV (1975), which is probably the best-known work in this programme, draws on Sequenza VII for oboe composed in 1969 and arranged for soprano saxophone by Claude Delangle in 1995 as Sequenza VIIb.

Chemins IV
is scored for a small ensemble of eleven strings acting as a resonating box around the oboe or saxophone part as does the instrumental ensemble (strings and percussion) of Récit (Chemins VII) composed in 1995. This was originally scored for alto saxophone and orchestra. Vincent David arranged it for saxophone ensemble and percussion under the composer’s supervision before making the version for alto saxophone, twelve strings and percussion (vibraphone and glockenspiel) heard here. This work is not very different from the earlier Chemins IV although the music is no longer devised so as to exploit the expressive range of the instrument to the same extreme limits as in the various Sequenze. The piece is tightly structured as a substantial arch-form starting from low D, reaching a high A flat before tracing its way back to the opening D. The music is still quite demanding on the soloist but, as in so many other works by Berio, retains the characteristic bel canto that is one of most endearing features of this composer’s music. And this applies no matter how technically complex the music may be. This very fine work is a most welcome addition to Berio’s discography and should be popular with players and audiences alike. Between 1979 and 1983 Berio composed 34 Duetti per due violini clearly modelled on Bartók’s Duets for two violins and sharing a similar didactic aim. Berio’s Duetti are quite short - the longest recorded here plays for 1:43) written as modest tributes to some of the composer’s friends such as Maderna, Globokar, Schchedrin or to some older composers such as Bartók and Stravinsky. These miniatures are neatly chiselled and serve their purpose well by setting real but limited technical challenges that remain musically rewarding. This release offers fourteen of them in arrangements for soprano saxophone and violin, alto saxophone and violin, two alto saxophones and two soprano saxophones. In these, Vincent David is partnered either by Erwan Fagant (saxophones) or Nicolas Miribel (violin), both members of the Ensemble Quaerendo Invenietis.
 
Boulez’s Dialogue de l’ombre double (1985) was originally composed for clarinet and electronics as a 60th birthday tribute to Berio. The title derives from a scene from Paul Claudel’s play The Satin Slipper (“Le Soulier de satin”) titled The Double Shadow. The solo clarinet (or in this case saxophone) placed in the centre of the concert hall dialogues with its shadow on tape surrounded by a set of spatially situated loudspeakers. The work as a whole is structured in several sections played without a break. The present version for saxophones and electronics was made by Vincent David in collaboration with Boulez. This version for saxophones works quite well, although saxophones add extra warmth when compared to the original.
 
Webern’s Quartet Op.22 may seem the Odd Man Out here although its inclusion is justified by the rather unusual instrumental line-up of violin, clarinet, tenor saxophone and piano. As with many other mature works by this most ascetic composer, the two movements that make-up this compact work are quite short. The first movement Sehr mäßig (“Very moderate”) is based on a twelve-tone row. The second one Sehr schwungvoll (“Very energetic”) is a short theme and variations using fragments from the original tone row.
 
As mentioned earlier in this review, this agreeably varied release centres on Vincent David whose playing and musicality are first rate throughout. He is superbly partnered by all concerned. The recording and the global production are well-up to Aeon’s best standards.
 
Hubert Culot
 


 


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