Magazine article Gramophone

Dukas: Piano Sonata

Magazine article Gramophone

Dukas: Piano Sonata

Article excerpt

Dukas

Piano Sonata. La plainte, au loin, du faune.... Prelude elegiaque sur le nom de Haydn. Variations, Interlude et Finale sur un theme de Rameau

Herve Billaut pf

Mirare (F) MIR242 (71' * DDD)

Dukas's single Piano Sonata remains among the most formidable peaks of the repertoire, a defiant assault on what is generally viewed as the French sensibility as exemplified by Debussy, Faure and Ravel in their entirely individual ways. Daunted by Beethoven's example, all three arguably shied away from following suit; it was left to Dukas (and later Dutilleux and Boulez) to do so, composing a work of such imposing length and stature that it has even been described as 'the French Hammerklavier'.

For Cortot, the first movement was 'douloureuse, tourmentee par l'insistance de syncopes palpitantes', at once suggesting the range and scale of things both present and to come. Part of what Mario Praz called 'the Romantic Agony', the idiom is dark and forbidding, making outsize demands on the pianist's technique and stamina. The shadow of Cesar Franck hangs over much of the writing and it is also possible to hear the influence of Dukas's 1900 Sonata on Szymanowski's even more massive Second Sonata (1910-11). …

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