Christophe Pantillon: French Cello Solo Works after 1945
This disc may sound suspiciously like a gimmick by which to group together some hard-to-place niche repertoire but Christophe Pantillon’s collection of music written for cello in France after 1945 is much more than that. What it does is present a fascinating survey of how much the French arts movement diversified and fractured after the Second World War through Ibert’s Ghirlarzana (from the surrealist aesthetic, which already had an identity), via the liberal-minded and intuitive third of Dutilleux’s Strophes sur le nom de Sacher to the discombobulatingly simple Seul of contemporary composer David Chaillou. It begins with Honegger’s Paduana, too – a piece properly neo-classical in outlook (it includes all the Bachian counterpoint influence and a serious tone that became less evident as time went on in France), and a perfect starting point from which to fan out across the wealth of styles that this disc surveys with such insight.
In doing all this, the disc shows how limited the cello repertoire had been until then, placing, as a result, even more evolutionary value at the door of French cellists such as Fournier and Tortelier (as well as French exiles such as Rostropovich). All this is given impeccable attention by Pantillon, whose smoothness of line and lyrical accuracy of tuning allow the music to venture in whatever direction is necessary. He doesn’t try to control the music but presents each piece as a free-standing example in its own right, thereby illustrating his thesis in the clearest possible way.