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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Saturday January 20 2007

CD Review usually manages to sell me something, and today it was piano music by Dutilleux, played by somebody called Chen, very well, with lots of glitter and sparkle and delicacy, in a style I have always liked, namely a twentieth century guy evoking the baroque era.  I like it when Stravinsky does this, or Poulenc, or Tippett, or, basically, anyone.  And this turned out to be Henri Dutilleux, a musician whose orchestral music I have never liked, because it just sounds like Brand-X modernism to me, discordant and ugly and pointless, like colours on a pallette after a two year old has mixed them all up for far too long and turned them all into the same ugly mess (but not for long enough to turn it all into the same colour).

imageWhile I was listening I had only just surfaced from late Saturday morning slumber, and didn’t know what it was.  I like this, I thought.  But, one thing I am pretty sure, I thought, is: it’s not Naxos.  Naxos piano records tend to be rather ugly, I think.  The sound is usually too thick and lumpy, with none of that lightning glitter and sparkle and delicacy that, for instance, Mark André Hamelin does so well, on Hyperion.  This is glittery and sparkly and delicate, I thought, so I bet this is Hyperion, I thought, and I bet it’s be full price, whatever it is.

Naxos.  Well, well.  I was truly surprised, as well as truly delighted.  I didn’t know their recording engineers had this in them.  Or, maybe, that Bond villain guy (rich, foreign, likes classical music, lives in Hong Kong – actually I dare say quite a nice man who almost never drops disobedient musicians into shark tanks) who runs Naxos just likes thick and ugly and lumpy sounding pianos to start with, but this time he didn’t get involved.

And it’s the complete piano music of Henri Dutilleux.  I like it when you get all the piano music of someone, all on one convenient disc.  Maybe the rest of it is discordant and ugly and pointless, but I want to hear it.  Because, I often find that whereas Modernist X’s orchestral music just sounds like a mess, Modernist X’s piano music, because he is only allowing himself to use one kind of sound (one colour - see above), is much more enjoyable.

See also: György Ligeti.  Is anything else he wrote as popular, with regular classical fans like me, as his piano music?  I suspect not.  Naxos do a recording of Ligeti’s études, but it is insufficiently glittery and sparkly and delicate, being instead ugly and lumpy.  Go with Aimard on Sony, if you can afford to.  “Pure sparkle” says the Amazon reviewer.  Told you.  Best of all will probably be Hyperion, when they get round to recording these pieces.

Dutilleux is still alive, having been born in 1916.  Another good surprise, for me, now.