- Color, for orchestra
- Concerto for violin & orchestra
Anyone who's been lucky enough to hear one of Marc-André Dalbavie's orchestral works performed live will surely recall this young composer's virtuosity. It's not just his way of handling musical material that impresses but also his command of the acoustic space of a concert hall and his ability to craft musical elements that combine and contrast in fascinating ways. If this description sounds abstractly experimental, rest assured that Dalbavie's beautifully orchestrated music is both extremely accessible and immediately satisfying. In fact, the three works collected here testify to his status as one of the 21st century's most interesting and accomplished composers for the orchestra. If a recording might not be the ideal way to experience Dalbavie's music, this disc is marked by a stunning dynamic range and sonic clarity, admirably conveying the music's essential qualities and more than hinting at the powerful experience it offers in concert. In his early Violin Concerto (1996), Dalbavie pits the soloist (the agile Eiichi Chijiiwa, who premiered the work) against a dozen other distinct instruments and small groups; the composer's play with spatial organization is at its most prismatic here, resulting in a work unlike any other concerto in the repertoire. The title of Color (2001) may seem to point to Dalbavie's vivid use of timbre, but it actually refers (much less audibly) to a formal principle borrowed from medieval music. This is a mesmerizing piece, arising from murky beginnings and proceeding to unforeseen climaxes that offer a real jolt to the listener. Ciaconna (2002) also refers to a form of early music -- the Baroque chaconne -- and is the most restrained and introverted of these three works, less splashy and dramatic but equally engaging. Under music director Christoph Eschenbach, the Orchestre de Paris (with which Dalbavie is composer in residence from 2000 to 2004) does full justice to music that deserves to be as widely heard and enjoyed as possible.