CD: Dutilleux: Complete Solo Piano Music


Born in 1916, and still going strong in his 90s, Henri Dutilleux is music's ultimate fastidious craftsman, the creator of a smallish output, all of it wonderful and fashioned with exquisite care. His complete piano music fits comfortably on a single disc, and the bulk of it dates from the 1940s and 50s, before he started work on the series of orchestral masterpieces on which his fame predominantly rests. His principal work for the instrument is his Sonata (1948) - a startling piece, neoclassical in structure, which juxtaposes a restlessly shifting allegro with an introspective slow movement, before culminating in a set of variations of dazzling complexity.

The rest of the disc consists mostly of miniatures. As always with Dutilleux, however, brevity is never a measure of quality, and in such works as Au Gré des Ondes (1946) and Trois Préludes (1977-88), you're acutely conscious of his painstaking reappraisals of harmony and form. Malaysian-born pianist John Chen plays everything with supple finesse and just the requisite touch of dispassion, carefully exposing every shift in colour and sonority.


Tim Ashley

The GuardianTramp

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