Edith CANAT DE CHIZY (b. 1950)
Times (2009)a [12:28]
La Ligne d’ombre (2004)b [8:01]
Yell (1985, rev. 1989)c [18:30]
Alio (2002)d [9:29]
Omen (2006)e [17:20]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Kazuki Yamada a
Orchestre de Besançon Montbéliard Franche-Comté/Peter Csaba b
Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique/Michiyosji Inouë c
Orchestre Poitou-Charentes/Peter Csaba d
Orchestre National de France/Alain Altinoglu e
rec. Théâtre de Besançon, 24 September 2009 (Times, La Ligne d’ombre); Radio France, Paris, 19 March 2002 (Yell) and 21 October 2006 (Omen); Radio Classique, Poitiers, 19 March 2002 (Alio)
AEON AECD 1105 [66:33]

Times was composed as the test-piece for the finals of the 2009 International Young Conductors Competition in Besançon. The piece opens with the percussion beating time inexorably. The music soon leads into a series of contrasted episodes of varying dynamic and texture, at times halting and propulsive. Near the end the percussion resumes its tireless rhythmic impact while the music dissolves before a final coda in which the music eventually peters out calmly. For anecdote’s sake it may be said that the title also alludes to the fact that Besançon was the centre of France’s clock- and watch-making industry.

La Ligne d’ombre (“The Shadow Line”) is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s eponymous short story. This brief tone poem opens in nocturnal and ominous mood. The menacing storm draws nearer until it suddenly breaks in the violent central section. The piece then moves quickly to its appeased close.

Yell is Canat de Chizy’s first orchestral work completed in 1985 and revised in 1989 before the first performance. In her liner-notes the composer mentions that at the time of writing Yell she was involved in electro-acoustic music so that it at times almost sounds electronic. One may think of, say, Pierre Mercure’s Lignes et Points (1965) as another example of ‘electronic’ orchestral music. At that time, too, the composer drew on aleatoric techniques - which she went on using in later works - resulting in a greater and more intricate rhythmic flexibility. It may be a somewhat more complex work than any of the other ones here, but one cannot but be bowled over by the orchestral mastery displayed throughout this often exacting but ultimately exciting piece. The composer describes it as “the matrix for the other works on this CD that marked a decisive step in the elaboration of her language”.

The composer mentions that Alio (Latin for “elsewhere”) was composed in a period when she was working on the idea of “movement”. This can be discerned especially in her works for strings, among which her third string trio Moving (2001) is to be noted. The title implies a short journey which is after all what you expect from a piece of music, even the most static.

Omen was indirectly inspired by van Gogh’s last painting Wheat Field with Crows that he completed before his suicide and by words from one of Rilke’s Quatrains valaisans that might have been inspired by van Gogh too. “Paths that lead nowhere, between two meadows … Paths that often have nothing between them/Other than pure space and the season”. The composer also mentions Heidegger who wrote a book titled Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part”, thus clearly alluding to Rilke’s words. I am no Heidegger expert so I do not know how far a deeper knowledge of his work might help. At the risk of repeating myself – again – the music is what really counts. In this as in the other pieces recorded here the music is always superbly crafted, full of instrumental imagination and often quite beautiful.

Performances and recording are excellent throughout as is the informative booklet. I have already reviewed three earlier discs entirely devoted to Edith Canat de Chizy’s music with undimmed enthusiasm. The one under review, however, may be safely recommended as a fair introduction to the composer’s highly personal and utterly sincere music-making, the more so in that it confronts an early work with several more recent ones and – by so doing – allows an appreciation of her stylistic progress over the years.

Hubert Culot

This well-filled disc may be recommended as a fair introduction to Edith Canat de Chizy’s highly personal and sincere music-making.