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Jean-Luc Darbellay A Portrait
“Oyama” for large orchestra,
“Azur” for horn quartet,
“Shadows” for 5 percussionists,
“Sozusagen” for oboe, viola, bassoon and orchestra
CD2 :
Requiem for soloists,choir and orchestra

Claves CD 50-2702/03 [UK distributor Discovery]

The music of this important Swiss composer (one-time President of the ISCM & founder of its Swiss section) does not until now seem to have got over the Alps and across the English Channel, to our loss.

Jean-Luc Darbellay is a prolific composer and he has been justly recognised in this fine portrait CD compiled from performances of his music 1999-2006. 9

The music is sonically arresting and generous in its exploration of instrumental timbres in small scale chamber works and on large orchestral and choral canvases.

His aesthetic "originates from serial technique, but is not limited to it." He developed his own system of "central notes", centering on one note or focussing on a group of notes - - the focus can be on more complex aggregates, groups of five or six notes, -- intense textural flourishes! -- in essence, moving clusters, which frequently recur like leitmotifs, or "central" or "basic chords," as in Oyama [interview with Anton Rovner].

The Requiem, to the shorter original Latin text, is extraordinary, with memorable sonorities from an extended orchestral palette (including basset horn, Wagner tubas and "five tam-tams of different degrees of brightness") with many unusual effects and the organ taking a prominent part. This is an accessible major work which would evoke a generous response from British audiences, if ever they had a chance to encounter it. One for the BBC to consider for the Proms, where a good sized audience is usuallyassured and prepared to listen to novelties.

The recordings are all excellent, supported by a lavish illustrated insert, in a modern book format. Recommended with enthusiasm.

Peter Grahame Woolf