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Dutilleux Complete Piano Music John Chen (piano)

Naxos 8.557823

 

Straightforward, effective performances of repertoire that deserves to be better known. Dutilleux' output contains one large work, the sonata of 1948 and the late Trois Preludes with some miniatures in between. There is great consistency of style, the impressionistic late preludes remain as close to Ravel as the earliest works to Messiaen.

 

If you don't know what to expect, Dutilleux piano music sounds akin to its French relatives, the influence of Debussy and Ravel, the kinship of Ibert, Messiaen and Satie, the prelude to Boulez are all apparent. If you are already a fan of this repertoire, you are likely to find the Queffelec disc still unchallenged Chen does not match her flair, allusiveness and wit. But as an introduction, no reservations. Bright recorded sound, which adds to the sense of analytical, modern intepretations; Chen is barely out of his teens (and recorded this when 19); much is clearly expected of him, and he has plenty of time to develop. Certainly, he already possesses excellent technique and a strong sense of musicality.

 

The most winning selection on the disc is the set that forms part of what Dutilleux wrote as programme interludes for Radio France in 1946, half pastiche, half exploration, ranging from an Etude straight out of Debussy's set, to a traditionally French berceuse. The other short works that conclude the disc are similarly charming; the sonata has the structural strength we associate with Franck, notably in its chorale and variations finale.

 

Ying Chang