electrocd

Review

Ian Whalley, Array Online, November 9, 2000

The opening CD notes give Yves Daoust’s biography that includes a background in piano performance and an early interest in cinema and theatre. The composer’s track notes, particularly those on the third track, provide the best insight into what is being attempted here, and François Guérin’s analysis of works in the CD notes give an overview of the composer’s main stylistic traits.

The opening track Impromptu is based on the composers MIDI recording of Chopin’s Fantasie-impromptu in C sharp minor (Op. 66). Key motives are then extracted to form the basis of ‘Chopin sound objects’ that are manipulated well beyond the physical limits of the piano. Ideas freely collide in a mixture of the melodic and textural, yet the piece is carefully controlled structurally. The sense of momentum, particularly through the control of density and panning, is outstanding.

Il était une fois… (conte sans paroles) is a sound collage inspired by stories the composer used to make up to put his daughter to sleep. Like a bedtime story, the work inhabits a twilight world between reality and dreams, and the structure is accessible. The result is surreal, evocative and haunting, with the specific and vague trading places for attention in the texture.

Small ‘fetish’ sounds are the basis of the short work Mi bémol. The composer indicates that the piece is a concentrate of his style and mains means of articulation. This includes confrontation of heterogeneous materials, overlapping textures, anecdotal material, and vacillation between musical and documentary approaches. This condensed work is tightly controlled and the material is finely balanced.

Résonances was composed from bell sound samples. Attacks and resonance are treated separately then blended into an atmospheric piece that has many subtle layers of engagement. The effect is swirling and full of unexpected turns. The careful juxtaposition and balance of the known with the surreal here continually captures ones interest.

Water Music; I initially played with some trepidation because the subject matter has been so overworked in electroacoustic music it seem difficult to find an original angle. The results here are anything but disappointing. Again, the balance of material, careful control of texture and shape, and sense of development are a tribute to the composer’s mastery of the idiom. The use of speech in this context, particularly childrens voices, is an inspired touch.

The CD concludes with Fantaisie, a work commissioned by Société Radio-Canada and based on samples from the radio sound archives. The composer aimed to create a collage of memories from radio and express the power of the sound beyond the referential significance of the material selected. Alluded to throughout is Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor (Op. 103). The work unfolds slowly as the listener is drawn in. The journey is rambling and drifts from the actual to the imaginary as material is transformed.

This CD illustrates an astonishing array of generation techniques, and is particularly imaginative in balancing the musical and documentary approach. Underpinning this is a solid yet subtle sense of structural control, and a clear sense of artistic purpose. Deceptively conservative, one is left with the sense of a series of parables allowing the material to be read on a number of levels.