Dusapin - (7) Solos for Orchestra

Dusapin explores the idea of the individual versus the collective

Author: 
Arnold Whittall

Dusapin - (7) Solos for Orchestra

  • Go
  • Extenso
  • Apex
  • Clam
  • Exeo
  • Reverso
  • Uncut

These seven separate works, composed between 1992 and 2009, sound as if they are hypnotised by the paradox of their governing concept – solos as collective rather than individual statements. Dusapin’s use of a large orchestra is rarely reticent. Distantly echoing Varèse and Xenakis, he sculpts and sustains sound-masses which heave and vibrate seismically. Aspiration is invariably tinged with anxiety: what the composer’s notes term “sombre turbulence” is ever-present, with unanimity under constant threat of fracture. The drama is in the way the solo “voice” holds together, despite fearsome challenges to its integrity. Fulfilment comes from the ways in which turbulence finally explodes into stillness and silence.

The longest piece – No 6, “Reverso” – raises a few doubts. There seems something contrived about its slow, contained ascent to a stormy climax, shrugging off the ghosts of romanticism that form part of its psychological landscape. For most of the time, however, Dusapin manages to hack out a stealthily purposeful forward path, the cycle as a whole ending with the kind of aggressive opulence that has been implicit from the start. To the end, the orchestra speaks with one voice, as a “soloist” whose single line nevertheless contains multiple inflections, multifarious nuances.

Having given the world premiere of Solo No 7, “Uncut”, in March 2009, and having started to record the complete cycle back in February 2008, Pascal Rophé and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège Wallonie Bruxelles are consistently alert to the basic expressive shapes that lie behind the music’s deceptively explicit continuities. Only longer acquaintance will make it possible to judge how genuinely intense the statements being made might be. But these admirable discs do everything in their power to invite repeated listening.

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