MARIUS CONSTANT (1925-2004): Turner for Orchestra, Brevissima for Orchestra, 103 Regards dans l'eau for Violin and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 12Q053
Label: Riverside Symphony
Reference: RIV 1401
Description: Constant is a difficult composer to classify; he rejected the avant garde (and was thoroughly rejected by them in return) but forged his own brand of modernism - seldom straightforwardly tonal, very instinctive, molding form to expressive content, unpredictable and vibrant. This is music teeming with brief, short-lived fugitive impressions, with incessant, kaleidoscopic changes in instrumentation, in rapidly evolving, original timbres - this is as true of Constant's best-known work (the Twilight Zone title music) as of his full-scale concert works. Like the quarter-hour 24 Preludes for Orchestra, famously taken up by Bernstein and affording the composer a measure of exposure and fame, the 103 sections of the violin concerto are perceived in toto as a single large-scale work in four substantial movements, and the symphony as a normal symphonic structure, though on microcosmic scale . There is very little pausing to reflect in any of these pieces; ideas come thick and fast, but always in a structured way - Brevissima is a genuine symphony, fully worked through but extraordinarily compressed in scale. 103 Regards assembles poetic images of water into an apparently conventional concerto structure, and this is entirely characteristic of his aesthetic method; in an interview (part of which is included in the bonus video on the disc), he states clearly that even when writing 'pure' music, there is always 'a story' - a narrative or pictorial impulse - in his own mind. The Turner pieces are not only atmospheric, they also evoke with graphic specificity the imagery of the paintings. Constant captures the pervasive melancholy of much of Turner's output; the enigmatic train hurtling through a dreamlike, imprecise landscape; the unflinchingly unflattering self-portrait; the looming, mythic Gormenghast that Turner made of Windsor Castle in all his portrayals of it, invariably distant, huge and rather mysterious. Olivier Charlier (violin), Riverside Symphony; George Rothman.