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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thierry Pecou, Orquoy, Chango, Marcha de la Humanidad, Orchestra National de France

The complex of components that channel into a contemporary new music composer can be enormous, and ultimately the outcome can be original but on the other hand is all-the-more frequently not.

So in the end we listen and open ourselves up to whatever we encounter. In the case of Thierry Pecou, and the album of orchestral works Orquoy, Chango, Marcha de la Humanidad (Wergo 7318-2) I immediately was intrigued by what I heard. But what was it?

As I listened for the first time, I turned to the CD booklet for guidance. Like anybody who listens seriously to previously unknown composers-music, I find that the liner notes often can situate the music so you can go on with some understanding. Wergo has long been a label crucial in the new music scene, so I tend to trust what they might say. The notes told me, hey, Latin America is a key. Think of Villa-Lobos, Revueltas, Chavez, how they synthesized European modernism with local folk traditions and influences. Then think of a new generation of composers and how they extended modernity into further abstract territory. That in part explains Pecou. My initial recognition of color and strong rhythmical elements might have reminded me indirectly of Varese, Messiaen, Boulez, yes, but there was the (OK I'll use the word though it ain't gonna sound down-to-earth) autochthonous (indigenous) aspect to consider in Pecou's music. And ultimately what he does with all of this is very original. The liner notes helped point me in the right direction. My ears did the rest.

The opening "Orquoy" for large orchestra is very much a good place to start. The music jumps forward with an almost whimsical but unerringly new kind of sonance and presentation.

Each of the three works has something very rewarding going on--at a height of high modernism but still anchored to the earth like a folk rooted tree whose height into the sky is equalled by the long and mostly unseen labyrinthian root appendages.

Jonathan Stockhammer conducts the Orchestra National de France on this program and to my ears he devotes all the care and insight that one might hope for in such unusually original fare.

The album gives me an excellent view onto Thierry Pecou's musical universe. Anyone who appreciates the high modernist paths and/or South American modernism-nationalism will I hope find this music very much to his or her liking. I did.

Very recommended.

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