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This recording of “Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit; Pascal Dusapin:
Time Zones; Quatuor III,”
performed in 1993 by the Arditti
Quartet, is a difficult disc to find. However, if you can locate it,
you’re in for a real treat. This 74-minute CD was released in
2000, and contains works by Henri Dutilleux (1916 – ) and
Pascal Dusapin (1955 – ), with excellent performances by
the Arditti Quartet.

“Ainsi la nuit” means “such is the night,” and was composed
by Dutilleux during 1976. Commissioned by the Koussevitzky
Foundation, this meticulously crafted 17-minute work is in
seven sections. These evocations of night could remind you of
works by Bela Bartok (1881-1945) or Arnold Schönberg
(1874-1951).

To discern the formal structure of “Ainsi la nuit,” you may have to
listen to it more than once. It would be wise to also apply this rule
to “Time Zones” and “Quatuor III,” by Dusapin. Composed in
1990, his “Time Zones” is a 24-movement work, with each
movement corresponding to a planetary time zone. This is a
37-minute piece. Dusapin embraces more “classically accepted”
musical forms in his “Quatuor III,” which is in four movements,
and about 20 minutes in length.

Both of Dusapin’s compositions were engaging, yet they
required serious concentration on my part. They were somewhat
avant-garde, yet not as much so as other works I’ve heard
the Arditti Quartet perform. Apparently, they did not appear
to require “unusual” playing techniques.

While these two composers have different approaches, I still
believe that placing these works together on one disc was a
wise decision. Both of the Dusapin works were dedicated to
the Arditti Quartet. Once again, their habit of collaborating
with living composers whenever possible resulted in the
aforementioned fabulous performances, with “reference quality”
recorded sound.