Born in 1878, Gabriel Èduard Xavier Dupont entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 15, studied with Massenet and Widor, and scored an early success with an opera performed at La Scala, before he died of tuberculosis at just 36. Dupont was already gravely affected by the condition as a teenager, and wrote this hour-long piano cycle between 1903 and 1905. Over the course of 14 movements, Les Heures Dolentes (‘The Sad Hours) depicts the observations of an invalid as he contemplates the world from his sick-bed.
Beginning in relative calm, the cycle gradually increases in intensity, punctuated by periods of respite and consolation (‘Une amie’ arrives with flowers) and impressions of life outside (children playing in the garden), before the culmination of the climax in the penultimate piece (‘Nuit blanche – Hallucinations’), and a final return to calm, which leaves the listener a choice between hope and death.
But for his early death, Dupont might have been one of the most renowned and admired voices in musical Impressionism. A modern revival of interest is bringing to light his major works, which focus on music for the stage and for the piano: this release is the first in a series from Piano Classics documenting his complete piano output, which includes a second major cycle, La Maison dans les dunes.
This too will be played by Giuseppe Taccogna, a pianist from the south of Italy who still lives and teaches there as a specialist in Romantic and late-Romantic repertoire such as Dupont and Rachmaninov. Taccogna’s own survey of Dupont’s life and work is printed in the booklet of this studio recording, which was made near the city of Bari late in 2022.
Gabriel Dupont (1878-1914) died prematurely from tuberculosis, and perhaps one reason why he never attained the fame of his contemporaries like Ravel, Debussy and Faurè was his short life, signed by his illness and the large time spent in recovering in convalescent homes, alienated from the intellectual and artistic inspiration of the capital. On the other hand, this forced isolation allowed the composer to seek his own style and musical personality.
Despite his unfortune life, in just over a decade he managed to realize some highly original works. In his two piano suites Gabriel Dupont left a formidable challenging witness of the musical atmosphere of the Belle Epoque: his music, hard to define, lies between romanticism and impressionism with strong connections to symbolism.
This new recording, volume 1 of the projected Complete Piano Works, presents the piano cycle Les heures dolentes, composed between 1903 and 1905 as he first fell ill from tuberculosis; it is a substantial piano cycle based on what was happening around him while he was in his recovery room. Beginning in relative calm, the cycle gradually increases in intensity, punctuated by periods of respite and consolation (A lady friend came with flowers), or life that continues outside (Children play in the garden) before the culmination of the climax in the second-last song (Nuit blanche - Hallucinations), and finally the return to calm, with the last piece that leaves the listener the choice between hope and death. The theme of "melancholy of happiness" (cit. Emmanuel Sauvlet) is the leitmotiv: the symbolistic contemplation of beauty and joy are pervaded by the melancholy awareness of man’s powerlessness in the face of his mortal destiny and ends in a calm, serene resignation.
Played by Italian pianist Giuseppe Taccogna. Specialized in performing Romantic and Late-Romantic repertoire, (such as Liszt, and Rachmaninoff) he is also an eclectic and versatile musician, a great singer and multi- instrumentalist with a vast repertoire that sweeps smoothly between different musical genres.