French composer and pianist Denis Levaillant is one of today’s major musical talents.
He approached music by studying classical piano, demonstrating precocious gifts. Initially making a name for himself with the general public in the 1970s as a performer and top-notch
improviser, in the 1980s, he was one of the pioneers in musical theatre in France, and the originality of his opera O.P.A.Mia (My Tender Bid) made a strong impression.
In 1983, Denis Levaillant was awarded a fellowship to the Villa Medici in Rome. In the following decade, he devoted most of his creative efforts to symphonic writing. His ballet, La Petite danseuse, commissioned by the Paris Opera, met with great success at the Paris Opera
in 2003 and has been revived in 2005 and 2010.
His collaboration with publisher Frédéric Leibovitz allowed him to see most of his catalogue recorded and regularly synchronized in television and films the world over.
Instantanés or “Snapshots” is written for four soprano saxophones and depicts several musical scenes or moods, that are left up to the listener’s imagination. In this piece, Levaillant often uses a musical ‘offset’ effect whereby each successive player begins a passage of music after the previous player has only started it. This may have the listener think of ‘burst mode’ on a camera, where several photos are taken in rapid succession.