: Obsession (2007) [8:15]; Tectonique des rêves (2006) [6:51];, 3 Anachroniques (2005) [8:45]; Citrons éclatés du silence (2004) [8:49]; Palmes (2003) [5:31];, La Folia (1998) [14:34]; Trio déconcertant (1996) [11:29];, Triptyque (1976-78) [6:40];
Ivan Bellocq (flute); Florentino Calvo (mandolin); Jean-Marc Fessard (clarinet); Jean-Claude Henriot (piano); Pierre-Olivier Queyras (violin); Anja Thomas (reciter); Eric Villeminey (cello); Pierre-Henri Xuereb (viola d’amore)
rec. 6-10 October 2008, Auditorium de L’Ecole Nationale de Musique de Mantes en Yvelines, France. DDD
DUX 0693 [76:19]

Ivan Bellocq is a French flute player and composer. He began his career as a flute performer and teacher, and later became Principal of the Saint-Cloud Conservatory. In recent years he has concentrated his career on composition, and he has received a number of commissions, including from Radio France, and the Théâtre du Châtelet. His compositional style is individual and has a sense of creative freedom, perhaps borne from his lack of formal compositional training. This disc of his chamber works will be an opportunity for his works to be heard, perhaps for the first time, by a wider audience and demonstrates the range of his compositional output in recent years.

The title track of the disc, Obsession is scored for clarinet, violin, piano and electronics. A slow moving, brooding work, this is music which possesses a dark intensity, especially in the quiet opening minutes. An explosive section follows, with pounding rhythms and wild glissandi.

Tectonique des rêves, for violin and piano, is no less dramatic. Describing movements of the tectonic plates, but set in a world of dreams, the two instruments are used to full effect, with a range of percussive sounds and extended violin techniques.

Trois Anachroniques is written for flute and reciter, and is recorded here with the composer playing the flute part. Once again using a wide range of contemporary instrumental techniques, this is a successful work which is both dramatic and engaging. At times, both performers connect in a vocal dialogue, and Bellocq’s use of sound is both resourceful and imaginative.

The mandolin is not an instrument immediately associated with contemporary repertoire, but Citrons éclatés du silence provides a wonderful opportunity to explore that instrument in a modern context. Bellocq based his writing on artistic depictions of the mandolin, especially by the cubists, and the lemons in the title come from the shape of the instrument. Silence is an important aspect of this work, and the pacing is well-judged.

Palmes is a solo work for viola d’amore, composed in 2003. This is an interesting work, making use of the instrument’s resonance and unusual sonorities. The work that follows, La Folia was composed much earlier, in 1998, and there is a distinct difference in compositional style. Based on the 15th century La Folia melody, there is more tonality in this work than in the later works, and the theme is much more apparent than then hidden folk theme of Obsession. Despite this, the music retains Bellocq’s unique style, with violent piano outbursts and moments of extreme dissonance coupled with moments of calm and peaceful contemplation.

There are two remaining early works on the disc. Trio déconcertant was composed in 1996 for flute, clarinet and cello, and combines different musical styles, including a twelve-tone treatment of blues-style material. Triptyque was composed in 1976-78 and was Bellocq’s first composition. Here his early influence from popular music styles, such as jazz, is much more apparent, and it is interesting to see his more recent works in the context of his compositional journey.

This is a well produced disc with some excellent playing from all of the musicians involved. I particularly enjoyed Bellocq’s own playing, as well as that of clarinetist Jean-Marc Fessard. Bellocq’s music is worthy of exploration. It presented well in this format, and I look forward to hearing more from this composer.

Carla Rees