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Friday, March 8, 2013

Michel Lambert, Journal des Episodes

Our assumptions about length and flow in music, like other everyday assumptions, usually only become obvious when challenged. So Wagner's Ring Cycle occupies so much time if performed as a whole, an audience may need to bring toothbrushes and pj's.

On the other end is the short work. Michel Lambert, composer-instrumentalist with a singular vision, wrote an ultra short symphonic work nearly every day for 92 days, between January 1st and July 1st, 1988. Some last only several seconds, a few 2-3 minutes, and most are somewhere in between. They are meant to be performed one after another with only a brief pause in between each.

In the version at hand Journal des Episodes (Rant 1244) we have a few realized for symphony orchestra and the rest taken on by a jazz piano trio of Lambert (drums), Alexandre Grogg (piano) and Guillame Bouchard (contrabass). The juxtaposition of modern classical motives and piano jazz performance puts the musical sequence in an interesting no-man's land of new music-jazz moderne. The trio is given leeway and improvisation enters the picture in one way or another throughout, which is fitting and sounds right.

The brief pieces, especially after you've heard the CD a few times, flow together in ways that begin to create a matrix of musical ideas in constant flux yet coming together as a whole in lived experience.

The motifs can be abstract or more forwardly song-like depending on the piano trio's interpretation, which by the way is very creative and multi-valent stylistically.

The combination of unusual score, symphonic appearances and piano trio interpretation makes for an intriguing, at times uncanny listening session. Somehow after a few times through the whole thing gives you a kind of satisfaction that you might get from a meal at a tapas bar, with well crafted mini-appetizers succeeding one another in rapid succession until you feel you've traveled pretty far, culinarily speaking, and that the trip was worth the effort. So with Journal des Episodes.

It's somehow very serious fun to jump from piece to piece. The trio is creative about it all and there is something to be creative about, after all.

Fascinating. Recommended!

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