DUSAPIN Reverso. Uncut. Morning in Long Island
Although he has been well served on disc, this is the first release on a ‘major’ label devoted to Pascal Dusapin (b1955), and it proves a fine demonstration of just what has made him a leading European composer among his generation. Two of these works form the final stages of his seven-part Solos cycle. Reverso (2007) is most notable for an improvisatory feel where the gradually intensifying foreground activity is held in check before being subsumed into the impassive linear flow which underlies it, while Uncut (2009) makes for a heady culmination to the cycle as a whole, with its accumulating fanfares and its inexorable progress towards a climactic ‘wall’ of silence. Both pieces have already been recorded as part of the complete cycle, with Pascal Rophé’s often impulsive and volatile approach complementing the more methodical and slow-burning though no less involving accounts from Myung-Whun Chung.
Morning in Long Island (2010) is itself the first in a three-part Concerts cycle. Inspired by Dusapin’s encounter a quarter of a century ago with the region off America’s East Coast, its three continuous movements outline a ‘concerto for orchestra’ of evident subtlety and invention. The opening ‘Fragile’ sets out the translucent harmonic and enticing melodic premises, its abstraction tempered by fugitive activity from percussion in a brief interlude that leads into the central ‘Simplement’. Here the elaboration of ideas so far encountered and the music’s overall expressive remoteness is countered by increasingly ominous climaxes in which the orchestra – spurred on by offstage horn, trumpet and trombone – conjures forth images of elemental ferocity. The final movement, ‘Swinging’, then imparts a tangible human presence through its intricate rhythmic interplay such as rapidly draws in the entire forces on the way to a propulsive ending: nature and humanity brought into visceral though transient accord.
The reading here is as assured as expected from one of the finest orchestras in the French-speaking world and a conductor whose advocacy of post-war music is second to none, with sound that presents this highly evocative music in the best possible light. Hopefully Chung and the OPRF will go on to record the other Concerts and Solos; in the meantime, this disc is warmly recommended as the most significant release of new music from DG in some while. Richard Whitehouse