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  • chrisdumigan

Eric Penicaud : Les quatre saisons d’un musician ermite : CD

PENICAUD: 1) Jusqu’en notre exil tu murmures for vocal quartet, cello and two guitars; 2) Improvisation sur la Sarabande for solo guitar; 3) Vertige de la Siguiriya for 5 guitars, palmas, cajon, and djembe: 4) Improvisation XVII – XXI for solo guitar : 5) Les Quatre Saisons d’un musician ermite for violin and guitar :6) Parabole Creole (version for 6 string guitar) solo guitar: 7) Le Nuage d’inconnaissance for string quartet and guitar ; 8) Puis le Rayon Vert for solo guitar

Performers : Unite , Christian Nadalet, Maitane Sebastian. Nicolas Lestoquoy, Sebastien Linares, Samuelito, Duo Cordes et Ames, Timothee Vinour –Motta, Sine Qua Non,and Oliovier Pelmoine.

Paraty 112111: CD

French composer – performer Eric Penicaud doesn’t actually perform on this latest CD but has recruited a number of his musical colleagues to do just that .The variety of the music here is therefore quite large, and the different sounds on every track considerable. Having said that, his music is definitely not an easy listen, as anyone who has come across his music before will no doubt realize as his musical language is always modern and very individual in its style.

The opening 8 minutes and 44 seconds of Jusqu’en Notre Exil Tu Murmures is dominated by the vocal quartet throughout, via a poem written by Penicaud. The music is often dissonant, and in style is very serious, often dark and a little scary too. The mood throughout the piece is definitely one of mystery, and pessimism and is not at all going to suit anyone who doesn’t like his music modern throughout in style.

The Improvisation sur la Sarabande sounds exactly like it says, that it is an improvisation, full of note bends and slightly unusual chord structures and some part writing along the way that manages to go to place that you don’t expect. Again the music is mysterious and very sad too.

Vertige de la Siguiriya has multiple over – laid guitars and then gradually the percussion of the cajon, and the other instruments such as the djembe here. The music is like an idee fixe, as it goes round and round almost on repeat mode, gradually increasing in volume and tension.

Improvisation seems to be a style that our composer likes as the following track Improvisation XVII - XXI is another piece written around it. It is very dissonant and very detailed in its musical ideas and structure as it progresses along its (almost) 8 minutes.

The title piece, split into the four seasons beginning with Hiver, then going onto Printemps, Ete, and Automne, is a 12 minute suite that starts sadly, and with less dissonance than in the previous pieces .Tambora plays a certain part in this opening movement that is solo guitar, the violin entering in the second movement Printemps. The music is slow and mournful with the violin playing leading role. Any thoughts that Ete would imply happy joyous music is completely wrong, as it continues almost where Printemps left off, with both instruments bouncing off one another in the opening before an extended Cadenza like episode from the violinist. The final Automne for both instruments remains slow and very sad indeed, leaving impression of the suite as being entirely made up of slow, sad movements which is unusual to say the least.

Parabole Creole must exist in a version other than for a 6 string guitar, as it is specifically marked as that here. This solo work has a number of very fast moments that surprise the listener here, as they are some of the first ones you have come across, and you are 40 minutes into the album that is a little over 54 in total.

The penultimate track for String Quartet and guitar Le Nuage d’Inconnaissance begins again in an almost improvisatory style, full of sudden unusual notes and almost scary sounds as it traverses along its way. At almost 8 and a half minutes its character hardly changes throughout except it gets more climactic as the piece progresses.

The final Puis le Rayon Vert races around the fingerboard considerably here, although the music is full of unusual moments and unexpected harmonies along the way.

To say that Penicaud’s music is one of a kind is putting it mildly. There is little or no diversity in its style, whether on solo guitar, or with a violin, or a string quartet or a vocal quartet. There is certainly nothing here that one would describe as happy or optimistic, as the truth is that it is very dark, very mysterious, usually slow in its beat, and full of very unusual voicings and chord structures, which is absolutely fine if you don’t want any variety when you put your CDs on. If you do like variety, then this extremely well played , sung, and recorded album is almost certainly not going to suit you, but if you do like this composer’s style, then all I can say is that he does it very well indeed.

Chris Dumigan

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