Wednesday, 1 November 2017
Hugues Dufourt - Erewhon (1999 recording, Les Percussions De Strasbourg)
The hour-plus Erewhon allows Dufourt's evocative writing for percussion to stretch out and show its full dramatic range - right from the thunderous eight-minute introductory section that focuses on skin percussion. This is followed by the longest section at 27 minutes, described by Dufourt as "an essay in fantastic stereo dynamics", which leaves much more room for the percussion, metallic this time, to resonate in space. Erewhon III is more atmospheric still, and definitely my personal highlight of the work; Dufourt called it "an imaginary landscape in the style of Edgar Allan Poe, the far-off resurgence of a residual echo". Lastly, Erewhon IV draws together the full ensemble for a stunning finale.
Given its structure, Erewhon as whole brought to mind for me a version of Steve Reich's Drumming where all the strict rhythmic drive was removed, and the focus was instead on the dynamic and atmospheric qualities of the different percussion types. Dufourt's Erewhon is certainly an astounding work, full of variety, and rewards repeat listens.
see also: Dufuort's Saturne, for orchestra & electronics