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Christophe SIRODEAU (b.1970)
Musique Vespérale pur Elsa op. 14- Sumphônia (V) for solo cello and orchestra (2003, rev. 2005) [25:15]
Obscur chemin des étoiles op. 15 - Nocturnal-Fantasy for piano solo (2003-4) [21:50]
Artificial Horizon op. 3 No.2 - 12 Variations for violin solo (2001) [6:41]
Cénotaphe op. 4 - Petite Fantaisie et chorale pour piano solo en hommage á J.S. Bach et Samuil Feinberg (2000) [5:43]
Jeux d'Ombres op. 7c - Improvisation VIII, Ode à Floribert le poète for violin and piano (2001) [9:51]
Arlequins en rouge et blanc (Hommage à Raoul Dufy) op. 2 No. 1 - Improvisation for cello and piano (2001) [514]
Esquisse pour Adramandoni op. 12 - poème musical electro-acoustique (2006) [3:53]
Pia Segerstam (cello); Orchestre National de Montpellier/Leif Segerstam; Jonathan Powell (piano); Hannele Segerstam (violin); Christophe Sirodeau (piano). DDD
rec. 24, 26 March 2006, Salle Berlioz, Le Corum, Montpellier; Salle Beracasse, Le Corum, Montpellier; Temple St Marcel, Paris. DDD
ALTARUS AIR-CD-9035 [79:59]
Experience Classicsonline

Sirodeau the Parisian composer is largely self-taught. He had advice from Victoria Borisova-Ollas whose works have attracted a Phono-Suecia CD. His music has been taken up by Jonathan Powell, an Altarus stalwart. His String Quartet No. 3 Le recherche de l'absolu, was written in memory of Sirodeau's mother and premiered in Nuremberg and recorded by Bavarian Radio. He is a fine pianist with an unusually adventurous taste which has seen him at the forefront of the Feinberg revival. He was a piano pupil of Yevgeny Malinin (1982-92) and attended the Moscow Conservatory (1989-92). He has recorded Segerstam, Feinberg and Skalkottas for BIS and often collaborates with Leif Segerstam.
It's a privilege to be able to review an Altarus disc. Getting hold of review copies has been next to impossible. Perhaps things will change now.
This is a small label with a connoisseur following and a small but select catalogue encompassing Sorabji, Marx, Stevenson and others whom conventional concert wisdom has placed at or beyond the pale.
The three movement Musique Vespérale is a strongly poetic and atmospheric work in which strands of silk and steel can be sensed. At various times it reminded me of the Britten Cello Symphony as well as the Bridge Oration. The central movement is spectrally romantic. This is a live concert recording but the end results suggest sedulous preparation, yet preserving a sense of danger and volatility. Bird-calls and 'fanfare' figures emerge in an overgrowth of jungle complexity which looks to Szymanowski's Song of the Night and John Buller's Proença. It was heard in an earlier version on 19 May 2004 at Jyväskylä but the final version - which is heard here – came out at two concerts in Montpellier one of which was broadcast by Radio France in May 2006. By the way the word Sumphônia means 'ensemble of sounds' in ancient Greek.
Obscur Chemin for solo piano is played by Powell. It is a work that partakes of Sorabji, Messiaen and Szymanowski heard after the transformational alembic of 20th century dissonance. This is music of dancing swirling shards and intimate confidences finally tolling into silence. There is a feral dissonant stone-cracking assault about Cénotaphe. It uses quotes from Feinberg's Sixth Sonata which was premiered by Powell at the Feinberg Festival in Moscow in 2005. Everything is recorded with fearful power and pleasing nuance. Try the thunderous attack and silky retreats of Artificial Horizon. It manages to approach the Variations without stultifying academicism. Jeux d'Ombres is for violin and piano - music that derives from his Sumphônia 2 - Incandescences des ombres. It squeaks and hunts under a straining hysteria ending in a moonlit morendo for the two instruments. Arlequin is based on a painting by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) which is reproduced in the booklet. With an overwhelmingly studio-electronic signature the Esquisse manages to be both intimate and grandiloquent. It’s a lavishly detailed and mesmerising collage with spoken word, whispered and orated in various languages, a sand-brush swishing ostinato, birdsong, harpsichord notes, bell sounds, piano and organ.
Altarus are a company of remorseless integrity. They have never had any truck with extraneous detail such as total playing time and duration of individual pieces. They're never listed. The music's the thing - and that's it! The details given above were slogged out using the CD player display and remote control.
This is a generous cross-section of Sirodeau's music which although it has an avant-garde signature remains unintimidating. It welcomes the adventurous traveller.
Rob Barnett


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