There have been dozens of recordings of Debussy's La Mer and Ravel's La Valse in the digital era, but only half a dozen of Dutilleux's L'Arbe des songes since Isaac Stern's world-premiere recording in 1985. La Mer and La Valse have been orchestral favorites since their premieres in 1905 and 1920, and considering its youth, L'Arbe des songes is doing quite well in recorded terms.
As Russian violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky demonstrates in this live 2007 performance with Mariss Jansons conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, L'Arbe des songes, like La Mer and La Valse before it, can stand up to repeated recordings and still reveal new facets. With his focused tone and steely technique, Sitkovetsky plays the work less as a combination of impressionist colors and modernist rhythms than as a sui generis masterpiece whose pedigree includes impressionism and modernism but whose fusion of technical display and emotional appeal is the composer's own. Anyone who has enjoyed the work's previous recordings will surely enjoy this one, and anyone who enjoys twentieth century violin concertos may as well.
The performances here of La Mer and La valse are no less impressive. Conductors like Pierre Boulez emphasize the works' clarity of construction while conductors like Charles Dutoit stress the works' beauty of tone. Jansons, however, mixes the two approaches, creating performances that neither slight tonal beauty nor neglect technical lucidity, but combine them to illuminate the music even as it seduces the listener. RCO Live's super audio sound is astoundingly realistic. The music truly seems to be coming from every corner of the room.