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Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1; Tout un monde lointain; The Shadows of Time

Xavier Phillips , Benjamin Richardson , Kepler Swanson , Andrew Torgelson , Henri Dutilleux , Ludovic Morlot , Seattle Symphony Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Frequently Bought Together

Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1; Tout un monde lointain; The Shadows of Time + Ives: Symphony No. 2; Carter: Instances & Gershwin: An American in Paris + Ravel: Orchestral Works - Saint-Saens: Organ Symphony
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Seattle Symphony
  • Conductor: Ludovic Morlot
  • Composer: Henri Dutilleux
  • Audio CD (April 29, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Seattle Symphony Media
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,570 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews


Lots of things have been going right for the Seattle Symphony lately. The arrival of a great new music director, Ludovic Morlot, who loves new music, a new commission that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and now they have launched their own record label with three releases focused largely on contemporary French and American music.

Their freshman release is devoted to the music of the late French icon Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013). The Seattle Symphony intends to record the complete orchestral works of Dutilleux on their new label and they begin here with his Symphony No. 1, The Shadows of Time, and Tout un monde lointain ("A Whole Distant World"), which despite the name is a cello concerto by any conceivable definition.

Dutilleux's first symphony is among his earliest works, written in 1951 when he was only in his mid-thirties. Here he retains the four movement form of a traditional symphony, but one already hears many of the aspects of his music that make it so striking: vividly colorful orchestration, complicated rhythmic layering and creative takes on form. The opening passacaglia movement captures all of this excitement as it progresses from barely audible string pizzicato to a massive swirling climax and then quickly fades off into the distance.

Tout un monde lointain was written for Mstislav Rostropovich and performed here by the excellent French cellist, Xavier Phillips. Dutilleux himself actually said that Phillips, "fully owns this work and evokes the very essence of its title." There are several cadenza-like passages in this five-movement work, all of which are truly amazing in their beauty and virtuosity, but again, it's really the ingenious use of the orchestra to color, punctuate, highlight and occasionally juxtapose the solo cello line that makes this piece so impressive.

Ludovic Morlot first met Henri Dutilleux in Boston in 2001 while the Boston Symphony was rehearsing The Shadows of Time (a work they commissioned). The recording here is from a live performance in Seattle at Benaroya Hall that really shows off how great this orchestra is, their renewed commitment to contemporary music and the passion that Morlot brings to music from his homeland --Q2 Music Album of the Week for May 12, 2014

Prolific on disc during the late 1980s and early '90s, the Seattle Symphony returns to recording with its dynamic young music director, Ludovic Morlot, and a newly launched house label. An initial trio of recordings offers canonical French works and an eclectic American program, but the pick of the batch is this gorgeous, authoritative collection of atmospheric works by the late French composer Henri Dutilleux, whose moderate modernism and unassuming mastery Mr. Morlot has championed. --Steve Smith, New York Times, May 2014

Product Description

Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) was the outstanding French composer of recent decades, despite produced barely a dozen major compositions in a six-plus decade career. The Symphony No. 1 is an early work and the composer's first piece for orchestra. It is in four movements, but these do not all conform to traditional types. Cellist Xavier Phillips' interpretation of Tout un monde lointain was praised by the composer, who remarked, '(he) fully owns this work and evokes the very essence of its title.'

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great release from a new label May 19, 2014
Format:Audio CD
The 31-year old Henri Dutilleux renounced all of his music written before his Op. 1 piano sonata in 1947-48. His 1st Symphony followed in 1951, so it can be considered a piece of his early maturity. His writing for orchestra is, however, completely assured. There is a feeling that not a single note is out of place, and that the Symphony is unfolding in the real world exactly as Dutilleux imagined it.

The work has a simple and logical structure, slowly fading in to a Passaglia in the first movement, quickly gaining momentum in a Scherzo, extending this forward momentum in the 3rd movement Intermezzo, and fading out at the end of the Finale with variations. The orchestration is meticulous, and the sound world seems French to me - Ravel and Messiaen come to mind. Dutilleux’s symphonies are well represented on disc, with excellent versions from Tortelier/BBC and Graf/Bordeaux. Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony don’t let down the composer at all in the first symphony; I hope they’ll follow up with the second soon!

A cello concerto in all but name, Tout un monde lointain from 1970 has even more excellent versions on CD, including recordings by Lynn Harrell, Martyn Hill, and the cellist who inspired the work, Mstislav Rostropovich. Xavier Phillips has the measure of the piece in this performance; his playing is controlled but not too careful, and the orchestral support from the Seattle players is excellent.

Conductor Ludovic Morlot completes an outstanding recording by leading the orchestra through a dramatic and inspired live recording of the 1997 piece for orchestra and children’s voices, The Shadows of Time. The excitement of this work is enhanced by the lifelike, transparent sound provided by the engineers of the new Seattle Orchestra Media label.
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I'm writing this in the aftermath of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's June 21, 2014 precise and diamond-shattering propulsion of Stravinsky's gorgeous ballets, under the baton of Ludovic Morlot, though the frisky and cookin' musicians of the SSO could hardly have been held down by a Soviet hammer, let alone a conductor's baton. In Petrushka, the background woodwinds and strings maintained a texture and rhythm one would expect from Steve Reich tape loops, not early 20th century compositions. The forte's of The Rite of Spring could only be described as a Seattle punk/grunge reading of the score, where the acoustic properties of Benaroya were put to the test, as if the symphony were one massive Fender Strat. The symphony passed that test with flying colors, totally shredding without compromising the complexity and delicacy of the interrelationships Stravinsky weaves. And for all we know, this sound is exactly what the prescient composer had in mind in 1910-13 when he previewed the mad 20th century with these ballets. It is Morlot's style to incorporate this sense of 20th/21st century music, electronic and grunge into his approach, but it wouldn't work so well if these impulses and passions didn't already reside in the hearts, fingers, lips, lungs and souls of the SSO's fine players. This meetup produced one of the best SSO performances I've heard in 20+ years of concerts...and hey, I was already a fan.

Morlot's overall approach, to my ears and to date at least, is to bring in influences such as Zappa and Dutilleux, electronica, Varese, and rock, but to first go for restrained readings that, if successful, let the voice of the composer speak through the performance. This works better sometimes than others.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great recording--except zero CD or track information April 29, 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Great recording! However, the recording appears to lack track information, so, if you are playing this CD in your car, you will not have any track information, for the track or for the recording. If you wish to add this CD to your iTunes account or Amazon Cloud Player, you will also have zero track information.
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