Which composer has the true sound of Paris?

From my Album of the Week on sinfinimusic.com:

When thoughts turn darkly to Paris, a dose of Debussy and Dutilleux can settle the nerves. Claude Debussy died in March 1918 against the backdrop of a German bombardment; Henri Dutilleux was born in January 1916 and died in May 2013. Together, the two composers represent a century and a half of Parisian experience.

dutilleux plaque2

Read the full review here.

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  • The most Parisian composers are Jean Francaix and Jean-Michele Damase, in my view. I don’t see anything particularly Parisian about Dutilleux, but if you’re going in that direction, then Boulez seems more symbolic.

  • The next day after the attacks I listened to Debussy’s Pélleas et Mélisande. I am not sure if it was conscious or sub-conscious…. but in my opinion it was very fitting, very French and very Parisian, and I felt very satisfied.

  • Sad that so much contemporary Parisian music is atonal, intellectual naval gazing. Give me the sensual sounds of Debussy or Bizet any day.

  • There’s Erik Satie as well, of course – I love his assorted piano pieces, and before I even knew them well, when I was young the following very Satie-esque sequence (the “Sentimental Walk”) from Jean-Jacques Beineix’s classic Paris thriller “Diva” (1981; composer: Vladimir Cosma) also made a big impression on me in the cinema:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lN_8qFinDBM

    Very simple, very tonal, yes, but very evocative of Paris nonetheless (as are the visuals) and very sensuous, and it was one of the things that made me long for an extended stay in continental Europe, something I eventually managed. Paris also conjures up associations with Audrey Hepburn and some of the classic films she made there, and for those who are keen, her later “Gardens of the World” television series (also featuring extended sequences in Paris gardens) was exquisitely scored with assorted snippets of Debussy, Berlioz and others. As for Messiaen and Dutilleux, they’re both featured on Renée Fleming’s 2012 “Poèmes” disc, along with Ravel – the Dutilleux song cycle was written specially for her, I believe – think I’d better go and listen to it again!

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