French composers of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries delighted in adorning their pieces with foreign, in particular, Italian, elements, often calling attention to them in the titles. Among the most subtle transalpine stylists was Francois Couperin, who was refining the ‘French style’ and publishing his legacy in the form of harpsichord and chamber music. His contemporary, Marin Marais, contributed his own subtle essay in the exotic, a “Suitte d’un gout etranger” published in his Fourth Book of Pieces de une et a trois viole (1717), nearly 30 years after his First Book (the epitome of French viol playing) had appeared.
The name of Henri Dutilleux (1916–2013) is associated above all with orchestral music. His international reputation originated with the Second Symphony, ‘Le Double’ (premièred in 1959) and was confirmed by works such as Métaboles and the cello concerto Tout un monde lointain… But what about before that? In the centennial year of the composer's birth, the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire and Pascal Rophé present a programme which focusses on works composed before 1954, and offers the opportunity to discover a less familiar but by no means negligible side of Dutilleux's creative activity: songs and music for the theatre and film. Several of the works on this disc are recorded for the first time in these versions, or indeed at all.