Since the early 1990s British composers have been part of the program of the Festival d’Automne à Paris, with compositions commissioned and operas and concerts produced. First there was Brian Ferneyhough, then George Benjamin; Benedict Mason was programmed for the first time in 2012, and in 2013 came Rebecca Saunders. The concert this year has the last two composers plus James Dillon. The British trilogy begins on a light note with a medley of tunes.
For Benedict Mason, the music here is an attempt to capture "a tune constantly shifting along different lines", while also being in pursuit of "snapshots and imaginary ideas, with portraits of the known and pictures of what is scarcely known; then, occasionally, a melody will stand out, as with a solo emerging from the ensemble playing".
Rebecca Saunders has embarked on a "furious exploration" of extreme contrasts, with "temperamental, sometimes distorted" materials leading on to warm, expressive sounds. The musicians are urged to be on the move, to defy time, to shun melancholy.
James Dillon, for his first concert with the Festival d’Automne à Paris, has a work inspired by Heinrich von Kleist’s study on puppet theater: the body of the puppet wobbles, dreams, rests, then stands up again. It is not a mechanical ballet, but a long fresco with the chamber ensemble following slow shimmering electronic effects repeated as refrains throughout the work. (In 2018 James Dillon won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Tanz/haus: triptych 2017.)
Duration: 1h20 (plus intermission)