PASCAL DUSAPIN (b.1955): Aufgang - Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, À quia - Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Wenn Du dem Wind... for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01U059
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: The large-scale Violin Concerto of 2011 is an impressive work, cast in traditional three-movement form and Dusapin's familiar octatonic-modal brand of tonality, free-floating and harmonically ambiguous but lush and thoroughly accessible. The work acquired its title 'Rising' while in progress, but it aptly describes the music's trajectory. The first movement has a sense of gradual awakening, beginning in the violin's most stratospheric register over the orchestra's subterranean, amorphous accompaniment, the two soon coalescing to define the concerto's harmonic and rhythmic shapes, increasingly vigorous and, at times, confrontational. Having laid the groundwork, the music then retreats, after an agitated introduction, into a lengthy period of meditation in the beautiful slow movement, the violin's dialogue with the orchestral flute carrying a sense of Oriental stasis and calm. The finale releases the pent-up energy accumulated in the previous movements, in a tense flow of close dialogue between soloist and orchestra, which the violin only escapes by returning to the heights of the opening. The 2002 piano concerto is a clever, appealing work based on a very original idea, executed with elegance and an abundance of 'plot twists'. À quia has entered the French language from Latin, as an expression meaning to obliterate an opponent's argument in rhetorical debate. The concerto takes the traditional dialogue between soloist and orchestra and, with a certain humour, presents it as a tense, and intense, argument between two parties, absolutely convinced of the validity of their viewpoint. The limited pitch range of the material given to the piano evokes a disputant of dogmatic certainty. But the work has a darker side; it develops into a tense, psychological thriller as the rhetorical chess game is played out. At first, vigorous dispute sees both parties on apparently firm ground, but after many exchanges the orchestra is silenced at the end of the slow movement. But for some reason this is not a triumph for the piano, which reflects in a long, tortured soliloquy of a cadenza at the beginning of the finale. This resurrects the vanquished orchestra, which overwhelms the enervated piano through sheer obstinate repetition, and the drama ends with sad, solitary reflection by the desolate soloist. The three movement suite drawn from the composer's opera Penthesilea sets three scenes with three characters' narrative of the tragic torment of the Amazon Queen, torn between love and violence. In response to the violence inherent in the text, Dusapin's vocabulary in this work is closer to expressionism, with a late-late Romantic approach to leitmotif, than we usually hear from the composer, in a highly effective 'monodrama' with one voice in three roles. Carolin Widmann (violin), Nicolas Hodges (piano), Natascha Petrinsky (mezzo), Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire; Pascal Rophé.