Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013 11:16 pm by M. in , ,    No comments
The world of music is in mourning because of the death of the French composer Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013). He was one of the few late-20th-century composers to be widely played and firmly established in the repertoire. Probably because his music was more along the lines of the great French impressionists like Debussy or Ravel and he didn't follow contemporary avantgardes or was seduced by serialism.

He was often influenced by art and literature: in 1944 he composed the stage music for a theatre adaptation of Wuthering Heights to be performed at the Théâtre Hebertot Paris.
Trois tableaux symphoniques d'après Les hauts de Hurlevent (1945)
1. Dans la lande
2. La marche du destin
3. Epilogue: La mort de Cathy
The piece was adapted by Marie-Louise Villiers and directed by Henri Rollan. Years later, Radio France aired a radio version of the play (with the original music by Henri Dutilleux) directed by Pierre Barbier which is available here.

Quoting from Caroline Potter's Henri Dutilleux: His Life and Works (Ashgate 1997):
Dutilleux dislikes the electronic timbre of the ondes Martenot, and used it in only one other score, his incidental music for Les Hauts de Hurlevent (1944-45). This play, based on Emily Bronte's novel, was premiered at the Theatre Hebertot in January 1945, and Dutilleux thought enough of his music at the time to rework it as a suite with the imposing title of Trois Tableaux Symphoniques des Hauts de Hurlevent. The orchestal forces he employs, including a saxophone quartet as well as the ondes Martenot, are actually the most adventurous he has used so far. The three contrasting movements are certainly symphonic in their scope and development and the first tableau 'Dans la lande' (On the moors), is even a forerunner of the opening number of the First Symphony. Like the first movement of this symphony  (...)
The second tableau, 'La marche du destin', features a pedal B b-G-B b in the bass in every one of its 86 bars. There is a 'fate theme', initially given to the ondes Martenot (bars 8-9), characterised by dotted rhythms and (perhaps not not surprisingly) the interval of a tritone. (...)
The main theme of the third tableau, 'Epilogue: La mort de Cathy' is reminiscent of many other Dutilleux ideas, including the 'fate theme' from Le loup (1953). Unfortunately, this movement peters out with an unaccompanied passage for ondes Martenot, but it is still surprising that Dutilleux refuses to acknowledge this suite, given its affinity with certain of his mature works. 

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