Seattle Times arts reporter Michael Upchurch has lodged this follow-up to his recent story about Seattle Symphony’s new record label:
The Seattle Symphony officially launched its record label, Seattle Symphony Media, on April 1, when downloads of three new releases became available online. But this week brings actual physical CDs that you can give as gifts, file away in your archive or just hold in your hand.
The biggest news is a disc featuring three works by French composer Henri Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1, “Tout un Monde Lointain” (a cello concerto with Xavier Phillips as soloist) and “The Shadows of Time.” Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot is an ardent champion of Dutilleux (1916-2013) and this beautifully recorded disc is a knockout.
Dutilleux’s Symphony No. 1 is a gorgeous, eerie, shape-shifting dynamo of a piece. Morlot’s handling of the piece’s protean timbres and melodies is seamless and seductive. He makes a mesmerizing case that this is one of the great 20th-century symphonic classics. “Tout un Monde Lointain” is similarly haunting and powerful, and Phillips’ performance is stellar.
The other two CDs are a Ravel/Saint-Saëns package (Ravel’s “Alborada del gracioso,” “Pavane pour une infant défunte” and “Rapsodie espagnole”; Saint-Saëns organ symphony) and an American-composers disc (Ives’ Symphony No. 2, Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and Carter’s “Instances”). Recorded live in Benaroya Hall, they serve both as keepsakes for those lucky enough to have attended the concerts and as eloquent indications of where the Symphony is headed, both sonically and in terms of repertoire, under Morlot’s direction.