Dalbavie
Color
Concerto for violin and orchestra
Ciaccona
Eiichi Chijiiwa (violin)

Orchestre de Paris
Christoph Eschenbach

Recorded between 2001 and 2004 in different locations in Paris
CD No: NAÏVE MO 782162
Duration: 64 minutes
Reviewed: August 2005
Marc-André Dalbavie is involved in re-thinking the concept of sound as music. Maybe that should read ‘music as sound’. The heading for the booklet note – “space, line, colour” – hints at the acoustic interests of Dalbavie and how he has extended the space for the performance of music – by going beyond the conventional concert platform. That said, of the three works here only the Violin Concerto requires anything beyond ‘normal’ orchestral positioning. What is more apparent is the influence of 1970s’ “spectral music”, courtesy of Gérard Grisey and Tristan Murail, a redefining of sound and the transformation of existing material.
For Marc-André Dalbavie (born 1961), certainly in these three works, something from afar, from history, seems to permeate the music, a seeping through of tradition, which is processed to the present, even to imitating electronic sound, ‘musique concrète’, and expressing as ‘living’ timbres via the orchestra.
Ciaccona, from 2002, is a slow-moving work of considerable import that seems to take the bare bones of the chaconne form and hallucinate ideas around it; primeval stentorian crescendos stand out as do sounds that resonate as if created long ago; a sub-structure underpins the piece and there is a majestic sense of direction that refuses to be rushed.
Color (2001), also around 20 minutes, slow-burns its development; maybe ‘transformation of colour-chords’ best describes this work. Its architecture is grand, again from long ago – Versailles in terms of an actual building – and its outbursts are sonorous and deep-reaching. Color is not the American spelling of colour – ‘col-or’ is “terminology from the 14th-century that describes the way to structure melody, not melody like Mozart but like Gregorian Chant”. I quote from an interview in 2002 that the writer had with the composer. The music has its sensuous aspects, and the middle section’s faster and more vibrant countenance contrasts with the ‘blocks’ of the outer sections; although on a more direct level this is a kaleidoscopic work, one that computerises the sounds of orchestra without compromising the need for human endeavour, and sometimes touches the heart in the most unexpected way and is impressively rhetorical through some gothic outbursts.
The 24-minute Violin Concerto (1996) forms from nowhere and soon becomes rapid and busy. The soloist and the orchestral strings are on the platform with two groups of brass either side. Other instruments are dispersed through the audience. Whether such placement is fully registered in a recording is questionable; what is certain is the energy and variegation of the piece, and that the solo violin, brilliantly played here by Eiichi Chijiiwa, is left suspended and separate from ‘other’ soloists and with an almost invisible relationship with repositioned instruments. It’s a terrific piece; its sense of theatre compels, as do the constantly shifting textures and timbres – the dedication to Luciano Berio is appropriate.
These excellent performances, Color is a live account, are in fine vivid sound and offer an attractive collection of three of Dalbavie’s orchestral works; maybe the ideal starting point to explore an individual and interesting composer.

 

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