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Thread: What's The Deal With Henri Dutilleux?

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    Default What's The Deal With Henri Dutilleux?

    WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH HENRI DUTILLEUX




    I heard a piece by him today on AOL Radio called "L'Arbre des Songes," which is his violin concerto and I've got to say I'm not impressed. I did some research on him and it seems he's being compared to Debussy and Ravel? I fail to see this connection. Perhaps he's linked to Debussy because his music is freer, but the difference between these two composers is rather large. Debussy relies on chordal harmony whereas Dutilleux seems to rely on just randomness. Am I missing something here?

    Please somebody try to explain to me why, if I enjoy Ravel and Debussy, I would enjoy Dutilleux's music? Is this another case of the media trying to link a composer to another more tonal composer in order to sell records?

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    I'm not sure I'd even want to compare Debussy and Ravel, for that matter. Two very different composers.

    Dutilleux might be said to be in a tradition of French music which is just as interested in sound and sonority as it is in development, and is hence less tied to traditional tonality. But one could almost say that of French music generally. Certainly since Berlioz.

    Dutilleux has written a lot of music, too, more than just that violin concerto. Symphonies, string quartets, other orchestral music. I'd agree that Dutilleux doesn't sound much like Debussy or Ravel (I'd also agree that those two don't sound like each other), but the violin concerto does have a few sonorities quite reminiscent of Debussy.

    Listen to some more of his works to get a sense of him. And maybe even listen some more to the not at all random L'Arbre des Songes, too. (Remember, I think "random" is fine. I just don't think it describes Dutilleux's piece. Any of his pieces.) I don't, however, think that if one likes Debussy and Ravel that that will mean that they will like Dutilleux, too. Dutilleux's from a different time and is interested in different things. People who like Claude Vivier might like Dutilleux, maybe, or who like Gerard Grisey or even Klaus Huber.

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    I'm not sure I'd even want to compare Debussy and Ravel, for that matter. Two very different composers.

    Dutilleux might be said to be in a tradition of French music which is just as interested in sound and sonority as it is in development, and is hence less tied to traditional tonality. But one could almost say that of French music generally. Certainly since Berlioz.

    Dutilleux has written a lot of music, too, more than just that violin concerto. Symphonies, string quartets, other orchestral music. I'd agree that Dutilleux doesn't sound much like Debussy or Ravel (I'd also agree that those two don't sound like each other), but the violin concerto does have a few sonorities quite reminiscent of Debussy.

    Listen to some more of his works to get a sense of him. And maybe even listen some more to the not at all random L'Arbre des Songes, too. (Remember, I think "random" is fine. I just don't think it describes Dutilleux's piece. Any of his pieces.) I don't, however, think that if one likes Debussy and Ravel that that will mean that they will like Dutilleux, too. Dutilleux's from a different time and is interested in different things. People who like Claude Vivier might like Dutilleux, maybe, or who like Gerard Grisey or even Klaus Huber.
    Thanks for the information. The piece I heard was his violin concerto (aka L'Arbre des Songes).

    I'm just curious why people would compare his music to that of Ravel or Debussy? I would also like to know why they would think I, a hardcore Ravel and Debussy fan, would enjoy his music?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    I would also like to know why they would think I, a hardcore Ravel and Debussy fan, would enjoy his music?
    Yes, that is the puzzle. I do like all three, myself, but my reasons for liking Debussy and Ravel are quite different from my reasons for liking Dutilleux. I think your marketing theory probably hits the mark. Coupla suits think they can get people to buy CDs by X because they already like A and B. So likely to NOT work, I'd guess!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    Yes, that is the puzzle. I do like all three, myself, but my reasons for liking Debussy and Ravel are quite different from my reasons for liking Dutilleux. I think your marketing theory probably hits the mark. Coupla suits think they can get people to buy CDs by X because they already like A and B. So likely to NOT work, I'd guess!!
    No, it doesn't work and I don't buy into what the press says anyway. I was just curious, because even normal reviewers were comparing him to Debussy and Ravel. Do you own this box set with Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic?



    From the reviews I've read, it's supposed to be one of the best sets available (not that there's much to choose from).

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    I've read that Dutilleux's Cello Concerto is one of the finest in the repertoire, but I've not had a chance to get it yet...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre View Post
    I've read that Dutilleux's Cello Concerto is one of the finest in the repertoire, but I've not had a chance to get it yet...
    I seriously doubt it, Andre.

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    I don't think it's wise to dismiss a composer just based on listening to one work, like you are doing?

    For example, I'm not a big fan of Elgar's orchestral works, but I like his chamber works quite alot.

    I think every composer has something, if even a little to offer, to us perceptive listeners. It's easy to find something to like if you dig around a bit...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre View Post
    I don't think it's wise to dismiss a composer just based on listening to one work, like you are doing?

    For example, I'm not a big fan of Elgar's orchestral works, but I like his chamber works quite alot.

    I think every composer has something, if even a little to offer, to us perceptive listeners. It's easy to find something to like if you dig around a bit...
    I disagree whole-heartedly. It's not a matter of perception, it's a matter of do you feel something emotionally from it and from what I've heard today I didn't feel anything, sorry to disappoint you.

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    Well then why put up a thread about a composer who you are inevitably negative on anyway? What's your point? Time and time again on this forum, you have shown a total distaste for anything post WW2 (or post 1913 The Rite of Spring dare I say?). But you must remember that your inability to understand is not a measure of the quality of the music...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre View Post
    Well then why put up a thread about a composer who you are inevitably negative on anyway? What's your point? Time and time again on this forum, you have shown a total distaste for anything post WW2 (or post 1913 The Rite of Spring dare I say?). But you must remember that your inability to understand is not a measure of the quality of the music...
    And something being "experimental" doesn't constitute quality music either.

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    Mirror, I have the three Arte Nova discs with Hans Graf and one Arditti disc on Montaigne.

    Otherwise, I'd like you to give this comment another look: "It's not a matter of perception, it's a matter of do you feel something emotionally from it." Wouldn't you say that the emotional feelings depend on how you're perceiving? When I was young, I didn't get anything emotionally from Sibelius. But I set aside a week to listen to nothing else. My perceptions changed, and I felt all sorts of emotions listening to his music.

    In other words, can you be sure that what you don't like today you will continue to dislike tomorrow? I know I can't be. I've been caught too many times by the beauties of composers I thought I disliked. Scelsi, Mahler, Berlioz, Prokofiev.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andre View Post
    I don't think it's wise to dismiss a composer just based on listening to one work...
    I would agree with that. Sometimes two works by the same composer are as different as night and day.

    I don't see much of a connection between the works of Debussy and Ravel, and Dutilleux (aside from the 'Frenchness'?) either. Perhaps a stronger similarity could be found between the styles of Dutilleux and Poulenc. Although, still not all that similar. Bah.

    I'm familiar with Dutilleux's Sonata for Oboe and Piano; not a walk in the park to play. Nice work though.
    omnia vincit amor - Virgil

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mirror Image View Post
    [FONT="Comic Sans MS"][SIZE="5"][CENTER]WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH HENRI DUTILLEUX
    I heard a piece by him today on AOL Radio called "L'Arbre des Songes," which is his violin concerto and I've got to say I'm not impressed. I did some research on him and it seems he's being compared to Debussy and Ravel? I fail to see this connection. Perhaps he's linked to Debussy because his music is freer, but the difference between these two composers is rather large. Debussy relies on chordal harmony whereas Dutilleux seems to rely on just randomness. Am I missing something here?

    Please somebody try to explain to me why, if I enjoy Ravel and Debussy, I would enjoy Dutilleux's music? Is this another case of the media trying to link a composer to another more tonal composer in order to sell records?
    I can't see any connection between Dutilleux and Ravel/Debussy either. Although, I think I heard a tiny touch of Ravel somewhere in Dutilleux' fantastic Piano sonata.

    But to mention them in the same sentence is strange. If someone reads it and buys some Dutilleux records because he likes Ravel and Debussy, then he's in for a surprise. And probably a negative one, since Dutilleux is quite modern and difficult. The first time I heard Dutilleux, I didn't "get" him at all.

    Nowadays, I really like Dutilleux. In the works I've heard by him, he clearly has a style of his own. Soft and dissonant, almost meditative (for me at least) and very "fresh". I got the same feeling when I first listened to Schoenberg's Drei Klavierstücke. It was like nothing I've ever heard before. Totally unpredictable and, well... random.

    But there are different kinds of random, I guess. To me, "random and soft" is way easier to listen to and find pleasure in than "random and loud".

    Apart from the piano sonata, I also really like the Mystère de l'Instant, with its eerie strings.

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    What I dislike is the randomness of Dutilleux's music. It just seems to lack any kind of melody and the harmonies aren't to my liking.

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