Contredanse du Silène Badouny
Des caresses ...
Du fouet et du plaisir

Nicolas Hodges (piano)
Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins
Chatting amiably with Julian Anderson (Music of Today’s Artistic Director) at the start of this early-evening recital, Canadian Denys Bouliane (born 1955) spoke of his fascination with musical material intent on subverting the very expectations that it set up. Certainly a sense of things being not what they seemed was much in evidence during the three works that effectively introduced his music to London concert-goers.
Contredanse du Silène Badouny (1998 – spot the anagram!) is a capricious take on the idealised (!) French conception of the English ’country-dance’. Scintillating keyboard writing, amply brought out by Nicolas Hodges, gave the music a playful feel in spite of its complexity – almost as if Gershwin were rethinking Boulez’s Second Sonata. Perhaps this was the intention?
Des caresses ... (1994) is very different: a passacaglia on not so much a theme as a harmonic progression that fails to resolve. The music is sensuous, and ravishingly scored, though the process does seem to lose focus when it turns back on itself just past mid-point. It made an admirable foil, even so, to Du fouet et du plaisir (1997) – a chamber concerto whose initial stark juxtaposition sets up an engrossing interplay of character and motion, out of which a new synthesis securely clinches proceedings. Dialectics made fun, or at least entertaining.
Performances of the latter two pieces were given with no little enjoyment by Philharmonia musicians under the ever-capable Martyn Brabbins. Mention should be made of two Bouliane CDs – “La Musique du Realisme Magique” [SNE-543-CD and SNE-544-CD] – featuring a range of ensemble works and worth importing via a specialist dealer from Canada. Meanwhile, the opportunity to renew acquaintance live with Bouliane’s very diverting music will hopefully not be too long in coming.

  • Next MOT, featuring Simon Holt, on 6 February 2003, 6.00 in RFH – no ticket required, just turn up
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