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Henri Dutilleux passed away in May this year aged 97. ‘Correspondences’ is a song-cycle based around the poems and letters of Mukherjee, Rilke, Solzhenitsyn and van Gogh, set to music. The disc also features ‘Tout un monde lontain’ (‘a whole distant world’, 1970) concerto for orchestra and cello, and the five ‘The Shadows of Time’ episodes (1997) for three children’s voices and orchestra.

Even though this is true modern classical music in its technical demands and rejection of key signatures, this is not unapproachable atonality and you can clearly hear the influences of Debussy and Stravinsky alongside Bartók, as well as elements of jazz in the works. 

Salonen and the OPRP bring much to the table, while Hannigan’s powerful, elegant soprano is ideal for the six ‘Correspondences’. If you already know Dutilleux, you’ll likely have versions of the other works, but these are not mere makeweights and Karttunen’s cello in particular is worthy of note. The recording is rather dry, but incredibly detailed and very ‘front row of the stalls’. An excellent disc, either as a first toe in the French waters, or as a completion of a musical life well lived. 

By Nicholas Ripley

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