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Friday, August 10, 2012

Thierry Pécou, Tremendum, Ensemble Variances and Percussions Claviers de Lyon

Sometimes the experience of a new composer is like opening a gift from someone you do not know. As you unwrap it a picture emerges of what you are getting but the first moments are filled with mystery. I felt a little like that when I first listened to the music on the CD at hand: Thierry Pécou, Caribbean composer, and his CD covering Tremendum (Harmonia Mundi) and five other chamber works.

Ensemble Variances and Percussions Claviers de Lyon do a capital job realizing the music, and the music is quite different.

There is a bit of high modernism, minimalist phrasings put in new contexts, and some of the idiomatic vernacular of Caribbean and Latin American rhythm and melody, transformed in ways one might not anticipate.

It's very original music and so less easy to describe than the usual case. And there does not seem to be one Pécou style at work. Some of the pieces have an engaging motor rhythmic quality, especially those that feature the marimba and/or mallet percussion prominently, others have a kind of ritualistic feel to them, some at times exemplify a pomo modernism-meets-the-world quality.

This is his third recording for Harmonia Mundi, and in some ways I feel like I am walking in on the middle of a conversation, that the previous music might help me understand the developments that have led to these works.

But even without that background I feel I am in the presence of a rather extraordinary music sensibility. And I feel the better for having listened to this disk a number of times. It's one of those situations where I have an incomplete knowledge, and so an incomplete experience of the composer. I will say that the music is of a high level of interest. Recommended for those looking for the new in new music.

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