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Alexandre Bloch juxtaposes two French composers on this disc. First of all, Maurice Ravel, with the Rapsodie espagnole, his first major work for orchestra alone, written at the age of thirty-two, and La Valse, premiered thirteen years later and which he himself described as a ‘fantastical and fatal whirlwind’. And then Benjamin Attahir, born in Toulouse in 1989, one of the most gifted and prominent composers of the new generation. Commissioned by the Orchestre National de Lille and recorded here for the first time, it is a concerto for serpent that showcases the splendid sound of this low wind instrument, a member of the brass family even though it is made of wood covered in leather. ‘Adh Dhohr is part of a cycle I wanted to write focusing on the Salah, the daily rhythm of Muslim devotion’, says Benjamin Attahir. ‘This piece refers to the noon prayer, when the sun is at its zenith . . . The musical form is constructed around this “zenithal” moment and unfolds concentrically around it. (...) I wanted – as in oriental music – to return to the strictest monophony, which is a rather unusual project in concertante music. Soloist and orchestra share a single voice between them.’