CHRISTOPHE SIRODEAU (b.1970): Musique vespérale pour Elsa for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 14 (Pia Segerstam [cello], Orchestre National de Montpellier; Leif Segerstam), Obscur chemin des étoiles for Piano, Op. 15, Cénotaphe for Piano, Op. 4 (Jonathan Powell [piano]), Artificial Horizon for Violin, Op. 3/2, Jeux d'ombres, Op. 7c for Violin and Piano (Hannele Segerstam [violin], Christophe Sirodeau [piano]), Arlequins in roughe et blanc, Op. 2/1 for Cello and Piano (Pia Segerstam, Sirodeau), Esquisse pour Adramandoni, Op. 12 (electroacoustic).

Catalogue Number: 04I104

Label: Altarus

Reference: AIR-CD-9035

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Christophe Sirodeau's name will be familiar to collectors for his pioneering recordings as pianist of Feinberg and Skalkottas, so it comes as no great surprise to discover that as composer he has much in common with the great virtuoso pianist-composers of the 20th century. In his taste for sumptuous harmony and rich instrumental colour one is reminded en passant of his French forebears - Debussy, Ravel, and more recently, Dutilleux, in his exquisitely judged combination of harmonic richness and economy of gesture. Lutoslawski will also likely come to mind, but perhaps the most telling comparisons are late Mahler, early Schönberg, and Berg. Every piece contains multiple levels of musical detail and psychological drama, ensuring that even after repeated hearings the music never seems to have given up all its secrets. 'Evening music for Elsa' is dedicated to the composer's daughter, but the reference is only to the circumstances of its composition and the work is nothing like the lullaby that the title might suggest; almost half an hour of highly concentrated argument, and a symphonic tour de force for the 'cello soloist, who sustains enough, and enough variety of musical narrative for a solo work, quite apart from the constant interchange of ideas with the large and inventively employed orchestra. The work progresses through a wide range of episodes, now exultant, now violent, now eerily nocturnal, always with a sense of underlying structure and inevitable progression. It shares many of these characteristics with the brilliantly virtuosic large-scale piano work 'Veiled path of the stars', a nocturne not in the sense of a celebration of comforting, enfolding darkness, but rather, in the manner of Mahlerian night music or a late Skryabin sonata, a surreal dreamscape, a kind of narrative stream of consciousness with the disjointed yet implacable logic of dreams. This kind of nocturnal imagery is a recurring trait of Sirodeau's music; the chamber works are limned in shadow, and even 'Harlequins' suggests the mask-like impersonality and clown illogic of the commedia dell'arte figures as much as the luminosity of the Dufy painting that inspired the work. 'Artificial Horizon' is a set of ingenious - and thrillingly bravura - variations for solo violin, giving the impression of free atonality - but when the theme is revealed, at the end in one of those wonderful 'oh, now I get it!' moments, it turns out not to be. And the intriguing final item, a brief electronic 'collage', using musical fragments and 'found' sounds more in the manner of musique concrète than the current vogue for computer-manipulated timbre, sounds like the aural component to a fragment of a larger multimedia work, and points to the composer's range of expressive capability.


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