Influenced by Faure, Debussy, Ravel, Saint-Saens and later Messiaen, one of his contemporaries, French composer Henri Dutilleux's self critical approach to his music has meant that his life works is relatively small, around 50 pieces. He has rejected almost all of his work written before his Piano Sonata of 1947, considering it too stereotypical of French music as all charm, elegance and wit. The net result of this is a box set of 5CDs offering most of his orchestral, chamber and concerto works, plus all of his solo piano compositions.
Much of this work consists of small, subtle, teasing melodic passages developing into larger themes before falling away to be redeveloped and re-evolved. I find this so much more accessible than the rigid atonal and serial music typical of the 20th Century - there's something here for my ears to latch on to, and I can enjoy listening to the music progress and expand while still retaining a degree of coherence which I can understand and enjoy. Also though, there are some starkly concentrated pieces such as Ainsi la nuit (Thus the Night) which is evocative, mysterious and at times difficult to listen to, but it simply grabs attention and makes it, for me, compelling listening.
The recordings on this set are all good. The earliest is a very good 1954 mono version of Le Loup, the Symphony No 1 is from 1977, and the rest are from the 1990's and 2000's. All performers and venues are detailed in the booklet which also gives a brief biography and account of the enclosed works.