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Dalbavie’s Flute Concerto receives NY premiere at Carnegie (Jan 30)

Marc-André Dalbavie’s Flute Concerto was rapturously received in Chicago, at the hands of the city’s Symphony Orchestra under Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez, with CSO principal flutist Mathieu Dufour as soloist.  Now New Yorkers can experience this “major work” for themselves, when the same forces bring their “virtuosic performance” of the concerto to Carnegie Hall on Saturday, January 30, for its New York premiere.

Dalbavie’s music is characterized by a natural gift for color that developed under the influence of spectralism, and is both voluptuous and animated with rhythmic vitality.  An important addition to his oeuvre, his Flute Concerto consistently inspires high praise.  As MusicWeb International reports, “Marc-André Dalbavie … has contributed a major work to the instrument’s repertoire with this fine single-movement piece.”  The Chicago Symphony’s program note explains further:

“Like his Piano Concerto, the Flute Concerto unfolds as one unbroken paragraph. … It’s as if a new light – from a new century – has been cast over the flute music of the past, splintering its familiar gestures into an original sonic world.  The entire work is characterized by clearly defined ideas and lucid textures combined with surprisingly complex colors.  It is easy to follow, yet it resonates with provocative thoughts and sounds.”

As Dalbavie’s former teacher and a longtime champion of his music, the legendary Pierre Boulez is the natural choice of conductor for the Flute Concerto.  Chicago Sun-Times critic Andrew Patner explains how Mathieu Dufour – who recently returned to the Chicago Symphony after a brief spell in Los Angeles – is similarly qualified to undertake the solo:

“Dalbavie’s concerto was written for Dufour’s longtime friend and colleague, Emmanuel Pahud, principal in Berlin.  Surely these two remarkable musicians are among the few who could play this work with such seeming effortlessness.  For 16 minutes, soloist and orchestra engage in a series of swirling lines with the soloist presenting cascades of notes that must flow as logically and smoothly as a country brook.”

As the Sun-Times’s was not the only review to conclude, Dufour acquitted himself with aplomb: “The work is unusually gentle for Dalbavie, but Dufour’s virtuosic performance illuminated underlying references and tensions as well,” earning “vigorous ovations.”  Indeed, MusicWeb International echoes Patner’s very wording:

The performance…was extremely convincing. … [T]he Concerto stands on its own merits as a strong work, and Matthieu Dufour gave the piece a virtuosic performance.”

And the Chicago Tribune’s John von Rhein, after praising the Concerto’s “seductive charm and finely detailed craftsmanship,” declares:

“If all this makes Dalbavie’s concerto sound like a blithe, attractive, and accessible delight, it is.  Dufour was fully inside its considerable musical demands, which cast him in the roles of soulful singer and puckish sprite.  Boulez saw to it that the various musical dialogues were clear and precisely organized.  He, Dufour, and the orchestra drew an extended ovation. If the piece continues to attract advocates of this caliber, it could easily become a repertory staple.”


New York, NY
Saturday, January 30 at 8pm
Carnegie Hall
Pierre Boulez, Conductor Emeritus
Mathieu Dufour, flute
MAURICE RAVEL: Le Tombeau de Couperin
BÉLA BARTÓK: Bluebeard’s Castle, Op. 11
Pre-concert talk at 7pm with Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School

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© 21C Media Group, January 2010

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