Claude Delangle’s latest album—a duo with his wife, pianist Odile Delangle—was released in December 2020 on the Bis label and is dedicated to the music by French composer Philippe Leroux (b. 1959), with whom they have an extraordinary and long-lasting friendship.
This recording takes its name from the piece that serves as its finale and includes six works of great brilliance for soprano saxophone and piano, both separately and as a duo:
- SPP for soprano saxophone and piano (2000).
- AMA for piano (2009).
- Conca Reatina – Ruban de Möbius for soprano saxophone (2015-17), which Claude told us in his interview, is his favorite work.
- Répéter… Opposer for piano (2018).
- Dense… Englouti for piano (2011).
- Noûs for soprano saxophone and piano (2019).
Listen on Spotify:
This is what Odile and Claude Delangle tell Sax Magazine:
The long journey we have traveled with composer Philippe Leroux has powerfully guided our spirit as contemporary artists, and his music has to a certain extent become ours as well. When we received the master of this album, amid the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, we were carried away by the same enthusiasm we felt when we first heard the music.
Conceived with inexhaustible joy, as if they were children’s songs and games, the works recorded here show a virtuosity that does not flaunt itself. Traditional and contemporary techniques are transformed in a single gesture, as happens with that “single brushstroke” of Chinese painting that expresses the paradox that each brushstroke can improve or worsen the final result. That already inspired the saxophone concerto L’Unique trait de pinceau (2008) by this composer.
The soprano saxophone range is broken in Conca Reatina – Ruban de Möbius, although the piece does not require any extension of the register. Combining intellectual rigor and spontaneity of movement and thus uniting body and spirit, Leroux shows the totality of the saxophone, “the beautiful and the bestial,” revealing the genome of its acoustic reality. Additionally, his exploration of the piano’s possibilities—through the use of half-pedals and the subtle use of resonance—manages to open up the music and testifies to his admiration for Debussy.
Our collaboration with Leroux began in 1991, with the trio Phonie douce. With the arrival of Airs (1994) and Un lieu verdoyant (1999)—an emotional outburst following the death of Gérard Grisey—our respective sensibilities grew closer. And after the successful premiere of L’Unique trait de pinceau—commissioned by Radio France—our friendship was further strengthened, and AMA (2009), Dense… Englouti (2011), SPP (2012), Conca Reatina – Ruban de Möbius (2015-17), Répéter… Opposer (2018) and Noûs (2019) arrived. The spirit of this music moves us deeply by its way of participating in the living unity of the world.
On the other hand, the unwavering artistic fidelity that has united us to Bis for three decades also serves us here as a chronicle: it is a whole musical “continuum” that speaks of friendship as music and music as friendship, for one of the purposes of art is to bring people together.
Philippe Leroux (Boulogne-sur-Seine, France, 1959) studied at the Paris Conservatory under Ivo Malec, Claude Ballif, and Pierre Schaeffer. Olivier Messiaen and Iannis Xenakis also taught him. From 1993 to 1995, he was a resident at the Villa Medici (Rome Prize). His music is widely performed worldwide: Venice Biennale, Donaueschingen Festival, Festival Présences de Radio France, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Radio France Philharmonic, Quebec Symphony, Ensemble intercontemporain. Winner of the Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca (French Academy of Fine Arts) and Arthur Honegger (Fondation de France) awards. Guest professor at prestigious centers: Collège de France, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Grieg Academy, Columbia University. From 2001 to 2006, he taught at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), and since 2011 at McGill University in Montreal (Canada). Official website: https://lerouxcomposition.com/