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CD: Crotchet


Henri DUTILLEUX (b. 1916)
Tout un monde lointain … (1970)a [28:38]
Trois Strophes (1976-1982) [9:34]
André CAPLET  (1878 – 1925)
Epiphanie (1921/2)a  [20:48]
Marc Coppey (cello)
Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège-Wallonie-Bruxelles/Pascal Rophéa
rec. Salle Philharmonique de Liège, 12-15 July 2007
Henri Dutilleux interviewed by Jean-Michel Nectoux and Marc Coppey [44:58] (CD2)
rec. Paris, 24 October 2007
AEON AECD0861 [61:15 + 44:58]
Experience Classicsonline

Henri Dutilleux’s cello concerto Tout un monde lointain … was commissioned by Rostropovich who gave the first performance and who then recorded it fairly quickly. This recorded performance is still the benchmark by which any other performance is – and will be – measured. Its umpteenth reincarnation on a recent EMI twofer has just been reviewed here a few weeks ago.
In the meantime other cellists had Dutilleux’s concerto in their repertoire and several other recordings are now available. Tout un monde lointain… is a splendid work and probably one of the composer’s finest achievements. It is one of his most popular works, which in itself is something of a miracle for the music is clearly contemporary. However it possesses a considerable appeal on account of the quality of the music and its beautiful scoring often verges on pure sound magic. This is a masterwork most successfully blending intellect and sensuousness, although it needs repeated hearings to yield all its riches. Marc Coppey’s technically immaculate and deeply musical reading has the composer’s approval. It is simply superb and can certainly compete with some of the finest recent recordings years such as that by Boris  Pergamenschikow with the BBC Philharmonic conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier (Chandos CHAN 9853). It does not pale when compared with Rostropovich’s performance which remains sui generis. The Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège-Wallonie-Bruxelles conducted by Pascal Rophé provide splendid support and play beautifully throughout.
André Caplet’s Epiphanie was Dutilleux’s own choice when asked about some “fill-up” for this recording. This all-too-little known work is a minor masterwork that alone would be enough to sustain Caplet’s reputation. Happily enough, this much-neglected composer whose early death was a great loss for French music managed to compose a handful of very fine works that are now available in various recordings. His compositional career suffered from his conducting activities and from his being considered Debussy’s assistant. Coppey’s beautiful reading of Epiphanie serves this wonderful work well and should inspire other cellists to consider it for performance. Some of you may remember that an earlier recording was made during the LP era by Frédéric Lodéon and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit (Erato STU 71368 nla and not re-issued so far). There is also Xavier Phillips recording on EMI Classics (see review). It is good indeed to have Aeon’s brand-new recording of this superb work.
The first disc also includes Trois Strophes for solo cello which started life as one of the tributes to Paul Sacher on his seventieth birthday. It was commissioned by Rostropovich. A few years later the composer added two more pieces. The triptych was then published as played here. In spite of their concision these pieces explore a wide range of emotions and playing techniques although the poetic ideals of Dutilleux are never far away. These are no mere studies although the music is as demanding as in the concerto, but never gratuitously so.
The second disc is devoted to a long interview of the composer with Jean-Michel Nectoux, who also wrote the insert notes, and Marc Coppey. Dutilleux explains how he came to compose the piece and how he immersed himself in Baudelaire’s writings while composing it. Dutilleux’s name was suggested to Rostropovich by Igor Markevitch who must have been aware of Dutilleux’s achievement through his conducting activities although I cannot remember whether Markevitch conducted any music by Dutilleux. He also tells of his admiration for Caplet’s Epiphanie, a work that he knows well because he accompanied the cellist Maurice Gendron in a performance of it during World War II. The interview is conducted in French but an English transcription is included in the accompanying booklet. I suppose that this may be of minor interest for some, but the interview gives one some insight into Dutilleux’s working methods.
In short, this is a very fine release that has much to commend it, especially with the interview and the bonus of a magnificent performance of Caplet’s beautiful work.
Hubert Culot


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