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CD reviews: Tetzlaff takes on Czech masters; Seattle’s Dutilleux

04.29.16
The Washington Post

The excellent Seattle Symphony is working through at least the third recorded cycle of the complete orchestral works of the French master Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013). Each of these two releases offers one symphony and one concerto, and one includes “Métaboles,” probably his most performed work. (Still to come is “Timbres, espace, movement,” commissioned and premiered by Rostropovich and the National Symphony Orchestra.)

Dutilleux’s music creates a meticulous, jewel-like sound world, typical of many French composers. The harmonic language is a hybrid of octatonic scales and atonality, but there are clear levels of dissonance and consonance. One hears wisps of Stravinsky and Messiaen, but the rhetoric and architecture are from an even earlier time. Themes are strongly characterized, particularly through rhythm and texture. The long narrative paragraphs and clearly recurring motifs intertwine and pullulate, drawing the ear and interest along.
 
In short, this music feeds the souls of the world’s great artists and gives pleasure if one takes the time to really feel the language.
 
These in-house Seattle recordings are impressive, handled by the producer and engineer Dmitriy Lipay. Some are pieced together from live performances; others were studio efforts. The sound picture is clean and detailed, and the mix doesn’t feel gimmicky. As for Morlot and the orchestra, they rise to the many challenges of the music, playing with real commitment, a wide dynamic range and expressive force in the lyrical passages. The scherzo from the first symphony is a wow moment, the strings careening on a knife-edge but perfectly together.
 
Read the rest of the review here