Guillaume Connesson belongs to a generation of European composers that emerged late in the twentieth century whose work can be genuinely called cosmopolitan; it is practically unimaginable that, purely on the basis of the music on this album, a listener would be able identify its composer as French. Whether or not that is necessarily a good thing is a matter of debate; historically, it has generally been possible to situate composers to some extent on the basis of their style and idiosyncracies, but given the easy availability of virtually every type of music ever recorded, it's perhaps inevitable that the cross-pollination of influences would eventually produce amalgams with so many diverse influences and characteristics that they are impossible to pin down. It would be possible to dismiss Connesson's music as derivative and eclectic if they were not composed with such skill and if it were not so attractive. The composer cites as his influences Couperin, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Messiaen, Dutilleux, and film composers like Bernard Herrmann and John Williams. It's the last whose work springs most immediately to mind when listening to Connesson; the bulk of the CD is devoted to his Cosmic Trilogy, and it's hard to ignore the influences of Williams' space soundtracks, even though this music is developed with considerably more sophistication and creativity. Connesson's work may ultimately sound like film music, but very, very fine film music. He is an exceptionally gifted orchestrator, and his music is wonderfully colorful and dramatically varied. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with whom the composer has had a long relationship, plays with polish and sparkle under Stéphane Denève, and Eric le Sage brings finesse to the piano part in The Shining One. The sound of Chandos' SACD is clean and brilliant.
Guillaume Connesson: Cosmic Trilogy; The Shining One Review
by Stephen Eddins