GUILLAUME CONNESSON: Cosmic Trilogy = Aleph; Une lueur dans l’age sombre; Supernova; The Shining One (Piano Concerto) – Eric Le Sage, p. (Shining One)/ Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Stéphane Deneve – Chandos

by | Feb 10, 2010 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

GUILLAUME CONNESSON: Cosmic Trilogy = Aleph; Une lueur dans l’age sombre; Supernova; The Shining One (Piano Concerto) – Eric Le Sage, p. (Shining One)/ Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Stéphane Deneve – Chandos multichannel SACD CHSA 5076, 52:13 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

Chandos doesn’t release many SACDs anymore, so it appeared to me that this one must be something special though it was all new to me. French composer Connesson has been compared to John Adams and Steve Reich, although I found little of the minimalist in his works. He is attracted to, as the note booklet states, “the infinitely massive.”  He imagines complex sonic events occurring in cosmic space, and creates his sound worlds free of any particular system or school. He regards his approach as a sort of sound mosaic, with elements influenced by world and pop music, film scores, impressionistic harmonies of the French composers, strong rhythms, and even the heavy experimental orchestral density of Penderecki. Connesson’s works are not serialized but neither are they tonal.  Though not mentioned in his influences, Edgar Varese came to my mind in listening to these works. Clearly, hi-res multichannel sonics are most appropriate for these massive explosions of sound.

Connesson was inspired to create his Cosmic Trilogy – the first three works here – by a reading of Stephen Hawking’s A Short History of Time, and Kandinsky’s painting Quelques cercles.  Aleph is in math the symbol of the power of infinity. It begins the Cosmic Trilogy as a symphonic dance of life and energy. Revealing his connections with pop music, the composer dubs the opening of Aleph as a “wall of sound.”  The second work, translated “A Glimmer in the Age of Darkness,” is a cosmic pastoral – depicting the slow and gradual birth of the universe. It has a theme based on an Indian raga, which makes one think of yet another French composer’s influence – Messiaen. The third work – Supernova – distills Connesson’s feelings of space and energy with a tragic portrait of the death of a star.

The nine-minute piano concerto, originally premiered by pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, seems like a compact little encore that brings us back to earth from the far outreaches of space. The orchestra is shrunk to Mozartian size.  The work’s title refers not to the movie The Shining (which used several Penderecki pieces on the soundtrack) but to an early fantasy novel by an American author who was considered similar to France’s Jules Verne. The story concerns lost worlds and sunken cities and Connesson attempts to translate simultaneous feelings of ecstasy and horror into music in the work. It is in three short continuous movements. These are premiere recordings of all the works except Supernova.  This SACD will bear many repeat hearings to mine the imaginative blend of musical strands woven into these works.



— John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure