- Tout un monde lointain. . ., concerto for cello & orchestra
- Strophes sur le nom de Sacher (3), for cello
- L'arbre des songes, concerto for violin & orchestra
The great French composer Henri Dutilleux celebrated his 90th birthday in January 2006, and perhaps that's what finally provoked the U.S. release of this superb recording, which has been available elsewhere in the world for several years. The two featured works, despite their poetic titles, are concertos for cello (Tout un monde lointain... [An entire distant world...], premiered in 1970 by Mstislav Rostropovich) and for violin (L'Arbre des songes [The Tree of Dreams], premiered in 1985 by Isaac Stern). Like all his compositions -- a relatively short list, due to the perfectionist labor that Dutilleux devotes to each one -- these works share a magical beauty of sound and an enigmatic aura of dream and mystery. They don't sound like any other composer's music -- though Debussy's and Messiaen's presence can be perceived, as if through a veil -- but they're instantly gratifying, and they stand among the finest concertos of the late 20th century. Each has been recorded several times, most notably by their distinguished dedicatees, but this pair of eloquent performances by Truls Mørk and Renaud Capuçon soars to the top of the pack. Mørk is an absorbing presence at the center of Tout un monde lointain..., spinning out the solo line amid the shimmering, carefully arranged colors of Dutilleux's orchestra. He also performs Dutilleux's Trois Strophes sur le nom de Sacher, an unaccompanied cello work of more concentrated potency and virtuosity. In L'Arbre des songes, possibly the most mesmerizing of these works, Capuçon's violin is like a prism, scattering the light generated by the orchestra in always unexpected directions. Myung-Whun Chung, who led a thrilling recording of Dutilleux's orchestral score Métaboles in the mid-1990s, once again proves his affinity for this composer's brilliantly refined style, which has earned a secure place among the 20th century's most pleasurable musical innovations.