Dirk Brossé is a highly gifted and versatile musician. As a composer he has a varied and sizeable output to his credit. It orchestral music, many works for voice such as the very fine and often moving Landuytcyclus
(1993 – soprano and orchestra), the oratorio Juanelo
(2000 – soloists, chorus and orchestra) and La Soledad de América Latina
(1992 – narrator, pre-Columbian instruments and orchestra) as well as a musical based on a Tintin strip Le Temple du Soleil
. There are also a number of film scores among which that for the Academy Award-nominated Daens
by Stijn Coninx – probably his finest film score so far (later reworked as a musical) must be singled out. As a conductor he has collaborated with the likes of José Van Dam, Claron McFadden and Julian Lloyd Webber as well as with the London Philharmonic and the Brussels Philharmonic.
The four seasons of the year seem to have been and remain an important source of inspiration for composers past and present. Just think of Vivaldi, Haydn, Sauguet and Bacri. Brossé, too, has added his own take on the subject in the form of a suite of four concertos for soloists and chamber orchestra. The rather sketchy notes accompanying this release mention that each of the seasons is set in a different location. This must not be taken at face value since the music does not aim at depicting anything particular but rather at suggesting musical moods that might be related to these locations. The fourth movement, however, does not seem to relate to any location at all.
Thus, the first movement Summer
for cello, clarinet and orchestra is supposed to be inspired by India. This does not really come through the music, although there may be some oriental touches here and there. It opens mysteriously suggesting dawn over the Ganges. It then unfolds with increasing intensity proceeding through a jazzy, dance-like section. A short cadenza from the clarinet leads into an abridged restatement of the dreamy opening mood.
The second movement Autumn
for clarinet and orchestra is a tone poem suggesting the monotony of the Flemish polders and grey skies. This is achieved by way of an ostinato over which the clarinet muses. At about 6 minutes into the movement there is a waltz section, cut short by a more reflective, dark-hued episode. The piece ends with a calm coda in which the tinkling ostinato might suggest early snowflakes in late November.
for cello, clarinet and orchestra, opens with darkly ruminating cello over a rather sparse accompaniment evocative of a bleak, frozen landscape. The clarinet joins in with yet another sinuous melody supported by lower strings. The two soloists then unite for an eloquent duo. Later, the music becomes somewhat more animated until a gong-stroke restores the mood of the opening, briefly interrupted by a short cadenza for the soloists.
The pulsating music heard in the first stages of Spring
suggests Nature’s rebirth. This is emphasised by contrasted episodes paving the way for a typical Brossé sweeping tune (at about 4 minutes). This in turn leads into another animated section cut short by a cadenza. A peaceful coda follows which is capped by a final exuberant flourish. The circle of Nature begins again.
These performances conducted by the composer are excellent and nicely recorded. However I must mention that some careful proofreading would have been useful in ridding the insert of some rather flagrant mistakes: the back cover has all the timings wrong. Nevertheless this should not deter anyone from listening to this fine release for Brossé’s superbly crafted and accessible music. It’s full of charm and of undisputed melodic appeal.