Benoit Albert:Etudes Volume 1
Updated: Apr 17
Les Productions D’Oz: 7 pages
I have seen many works before from French – born Albert, and have always found them original, impressive, and yet hard to categorise. This latest first volume of studies, 5 in all, are every bit as varied and innovative as before, His own Preface perhaps highlights his musical language best, describing it as modal with a broad rhythmic spectrum, reflecting popular music influences from Eastern Europe, North and South America, as well as French Impressionism and electronic music . Quite a mixture!
The French Impressionism element is immediately uppermost in the first study; an Allegretto Rubato without key signature. The opening phrase has a number of whole tone -scale portions, instantly bringing Debussy to mind, mostly in two voices which harmonically speaking are forever moving in and out of any key structure.
No2 is mostly in 7/8 with odd bars of 6/8 and 9/8 and is a repeated note quaver driven piece that continues throughout with other parts underneath or below the repeated pattern. Here I can hear elements of the Eastern Europe influence in the ever – fluctuating harmonies.
No3 is an Allegro that moves through 6 different time – signatures in the space of 26 bars, so care is needed here particularly, as well as in the numerous places involving changes in speed
No4, a Maestoso, Rubato 4/4 has several harmonics both natural and artificial, as well as moments of quintuplet semi-quavers ,making it one of the trickiest of the five. The ending is a Meno Mosso with a repeated note idea marked ‘like a tired clock’ , a description that fits very well with the music!
The final No5 is Dramatico, rubato, written in 2/2 and is almost entirely chord- based, and is full of drama and emotion.
Altogether, this is fine set, which really is quite difficult to get your fingers round for a while, until its many different elements start to become more familiar, and the musical styles are many and varied, and always grippingly involving. So if you are at least intermediate in your technique, this set is one to get to know.