Dupont: Les Heures Dolentes, La Maison Dans Les Du

Album cover art for upc 722056254427
Label: ATMA
Catalog: ACD2 2544
Format: CD


Wholenote Discoveries - September 2011
In this terrific 2-CD release, pianist Stéphane Lemelin makes a strong case for the remarkable piano music of French composer Gabriel Dupont (1878-1914). These works amalgamate late romantic and impressionist elements into a personal voice that meaningfully conveys the composer’s struggle with tuberculosis. Dupont was known in his day for operas; here too melody pours out and harmony is intriguing. The 14-piece set Les heures dolentes (Doleful Hours) is a diary from the composer’s sickbed at a spa. Particularly touching is the charming “A Friend has Come with Some Flowers” at the work’s midpoint. The last four pieces suggest confrontation and resolution: “Death Grinds,” “Some Children Play in the Garden,” the truly great “White Night - Hallucinations” with its terrifying bass figurations and dissonant harmony, and finally “Calm.” The ten pieces of La maison dans les dunes (The House in the Dunes) reflect nature, especially the sea. Water has life-giving status in both the playful “The Sun Plays in the Waves” and the dissonant, surging menace in “Sea Swells at Night” where Lemelin delivers a tour de force of “maritime pianism.” The penultimate “Star Light” I found to be the most spiritual piece of all, on the level of the “In Paradisum” from Fauré’s Requiem. Whether the pianistic challenge is handling soft, rapid filigree around a singing melody, pedalling dense passages without getting waterlogged, or achieving transcendent calm, Lemelin can do it. Highly recommended. Roger Knox

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