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Henri Dutilleux - Timbres, espace, mouvement, ou La Nuit étoilée, I

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Uploaded on Dec 15, 2011

Timbres, espace, mouvement, ou La Nuit étoilée, for orchestra (1976-1978)

I. Nébuleuse
II. Interlude
III. Constellations

Bordeaux Aquitaine National Orchestra
Hans Graf

Henri Dutilleux's Timbres, espace, mouvement ou La nuit etoilée (Timbres, space, movement or The starry night) depends on its spatial organization of instruments as much as its musical organization to convey meaning. Inspired in an oblique fashion by van Gogh's famous painting La nuit etoilée, Dutilleux decided to create a work where the movement of music through physical space, as well as through time, represents astrological phenomena. Twelve cellos are placed in a row in front of the conductor. Immediately behind them are the woodwinds: two flutes, three oboes, oboe d'amore, E flat clarinet, two clarinets in A, bass clarinet, three bassoons, and a contrabassoon. Next comes a brass row, containing four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, and a tuba. Percussion, tympani, and double basses form the last row, and a celesta and a harp are placed in between the cellos and percussion to the left. The instrumentation produces a sound that is highly polarized between the woodwinds and the low strings, and the spatial organization lets Dutilleux move themes fluidly through space within the orchestra. This large orchestra also allows Dutilleux to indulge what he has described as his "delight in sound as such." The outer movements of this work are both named for astrological phenomena; the first is called "Nebuleuse" and the third is called "Constellations." These emphasize a continuous metamorphosis of themes and timbres moving across the orchestra. The "compositional space" between high and low establishes itself with the entry of high, quiet woodwinds followed by the low strings, and the tension between these two sections remains a key idea throughout. Originally, "Nebuleuse" and "Constellations" were the entire work, but in 1998, as a recording was being made, Dutilleux decided to add an Interlude for the cellos alone. Again, Dutilleux organizes the space of the sound; the four lines at first assigned to three cellos apiece soon collapse and mutate, and the organization of the cellos keeps changing according to numeric patterns until the end of the movement, when the cellos slowly fade out from left to right. Throughout this work, Dutilleux produces gorgeous sounds from his orchestra, and the final chorale-like chords in "Constellations" seem to both realize the possibilities of the work and point in new directions. Timbres, espace, mouvement works equally well in conception and realization. [allmusic.com]

Art by Vincent van Gogh

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