Henri Dutilleux

Diptych – Les citations (In honor of Peter Pears)  (1985, revised 1990-91;  2nd revision 2010) Duration: 4’30’’

• I. For Aldeburgh 85

• II. From Janequin to Jehan Alain


Oboe, Double Bass, Harpsichord, Percussion (Marimba, Vibraphone, Suspended Cymbals, Tam-tams, Bongos, Side Drum, and Tom-toms)


Consisting of two movements composed in 1985 and 1991, the music offers an otherworldly succession of melodies, passages and offbeat textures for the unusual combination of harpsichord, oboe, double bass and percussion. Benjamin Britten had also used percussion and harpsichord together, and there’s a quote from Peter Grimes as the piece was initially written to honour Peter Pears. Nevertheless, Dyptique is distinctively Dutilleux however, written with extreme but precise economy. The double bass was added in 1991, darkening the resonances.  It quotes a passage from a piece for the organ written by Jehan Alain, a composer friend of Dutilleux, killed in battle in 1940. The oboe and double bass parts are so movingly written that in some ways the balance falls in their favour. The instrumentation gives the work a new-old feeling, as the harpsichord plays eerie nocturnal harmonies over the shimmering sounds of gongs, xylophone and snare drums.The crisp xylophone blows and subtle attacks on the gongs provide the work’s essential underlying texture. The improvisational oboe part contains long lines of melody that range from growls at the extreme lower register to screaming notes at the top.



Annotated by Laurent Warnier