HUGUES DUFOURT (b.1943): Compositions after Schubert Lieder - Rastlose Liebe, An Schwager Kronos, Meeresstille, Erlkönig.
Catalogue Number: 06V056
Label: Winter & Winter
Reference: 910 262-2
Description: This substantial and important set of piano works written between 1997 and 2006 sees Dufourt, the pioneer of spectralism, turn his attention to the piano - not the most obvious vehicle for spectral composition because of its fixed tuning in equal temperament - and to the Sturm und Drang movement, which makes perfect sense because of its emphasis on the power and unpredictability of nature and of human emotions, already a cornerstone of Dufourt's output for orchestra, ensembles and electronics. The composer has an interesting perspective on Goethe: “I believe that it was one of Goethe's characteristics to have seized in the world, like Wagner, only the hell, the underworld. Heaven, paradise, it was Liszt who took care of that, not Wagner nor Goethe. ... it has to be said: fulfilled love is mortally boring, there is nothing interesting in love but illusions, longings. I have been described, until recently, as a musician from hell, even as a pessimist. And why not? If one looks at my musical productions, they are more devoted to lost illusions and real hells than to utopian aspirations, which I don't believe in anyway." The four works take Goethe's poems that inspired Schubert and represent their inner meaning, sometimes with reference to Goethe's exterior imagery, and sometimes to Schubert’s illustration of that imagery (very much so in Rastlose Liebe, for example, but much less so in An Schwager Kronos, where the slow, heavy tread of time symbolised by the coachman is portrayed rather than the physical manifestation of the coach journey). Meeresstille is as still as Schubert, but here the flat calm before the storm is frozen, foreboding, and irresistibly reminiscent of Debussy's Des pas sur la neige - at night and on the fateful journey represented by the sinister coachman Kronos, perhaps - and could only have been written by a Frenchman well aware of the relationship between his own aesthetic and Impressionism. The huge Erlkönig, at nearly half an hour, is a full-scale music-drama for piano, not programmatic, though the mounting terror of the nightmare ride and the galloping hooves, the stormy nocturnal setting and the rising tension throughout are unmistakable. Dufourt's idiom translates to the piano in shifting sonorous masses of Messiaenic harmony and a kind of timbral dynamism, while a degree of gestural repetition summons up its own kind of resonance, both acoustic and in memory, which faithfully avoids any sense of abstruse, ataxic atonality. Jean-Pierre Collot (piano).