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Friday, November 27, 2015

Baptiste Trotignon, Concerto pour Piano, "Different Spaces," Nicholas Angelich, Orchestre National Bourdeaux Aquitaine, Paul Daniel

Music can be modern, that is, can show a contemporary, present-day quality without necessarily making use of all or any of the typical traits of modernism. This we know. Composer-pianist Baptiste Trotignon is modern in that way. The recent recording of his Concerto pour Piano, "Different Spaces" (Naive V 5382) gives us his music under near ideal circumstances, with Nicholas Angelich taking on the solo piano role wonderfully well and the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine under Paul Daniel giving us a striking reading of the orchestral score.

Baptiste, in addition to flourishing here as a composer of distinction in the strictly classical field, is an active and fertile practitioner in jazz-Afro-American genres. His dual background comes through in the music at hand most prominently in the rhythmic aspects.

But in other, sometimes subtle ways as well. The Concerto is complemented by "Trois Pieces pour deux pianos," featuring Angelich and the composer on pianos, and "Trois Preludes pour piano seul" for Angelich alone.

All of the music comes together to present a picture of the composer in the present day. The Concerto has a finely orchestrated presence, a sort of grand sweep, not predictably "the sort of concerto a jazz pianist-composer would write," whatever that means, but a work wholly dedicated to the classical idiom, tonal-modern with the tang and phrasing of the contemporary and a lively dynamic give-and-take between pianist and orchestra.

His very pianistic outlook comes through beautifully on the concerto and the two works for piano(s) alone. There is lyricism and a linear naturalness of expression, a somewhat abstract sense of note choice in melody that nonetheless speaks to us, a rhythmic vitality and a sure sense of extended form in the balanced phrasings.

The music has substance, strength in its near-pictoral mood painting in the French tradition, yet extended in original ways. I found the whole program of great interest. Baptiste Trotignon is a phenomenon, a musical personality of consequence, not out to overwhelm you with a great deal of technical fireworks, but to make music that speaks to you directly and dramatically.

Strongly recommended.


  1. I continue to enjoy your blog. Why is there an absence of feedback and discussion. Your choices and reviews are eclectic and interesting.
    Here is a recommendation - "Time and Its Passing" The Rodolfus Choir Signum Nov. 2015.

  2. Thanks for the comment! Why is there little feedback and discussion? Good question! I do not know the answer, honestly. Thanks for the recommendation. And thanks for taking the time to post something!