Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Michel-Georges BRÉGENT (1948-1993)
Les Variations Parallèles (1986) (44.51)
Claude VIVIER (1948-1983)
Shiraz (1977) (13.44)
Louis-Philippe Pelletier, piano
Booklet in French and English.
Recorded in Salle Pollack, McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada 1999
PELLEAS CD-0111 [58.42]


Marie-Catherine LaPointe, Director
BOULEV'ART - Artists' Management
Tel: +1 (418) 688 4280
Fax: +1 (418) 688 7283

These two works commissioned by pianist Pelletier are performed by him with stupefying virtuosity. Brégent’s Variations Parallèles were written for piano and Ondes Martenot, but the performance of the Ondes part proved beyond the ability of any available player, so on this recording the pianist performed to (against?) a MIDI controlled computer synthesiser file mimicking the Ondes. The extremely dense harmonic and rhythmic piano texture ("controlled sonic delirium") will remind one of parts of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards and the Sorabji Opus Clavicembalisticum. The work begins and ends with a "Reger-like" harmonisation of the chorale O Haput voll Blut.

The Ondes Martenot is an electronic keyboard instrument that can also produce portamento and glissando effects similar to a Theremin giving an enormous range of expression. This MIDI computer approximation is satisfactory during the keyboard-like sections, but is nowhere near what a real Ondes would sound like in the cadenza near the end of the work when the Ondes would be expected to soar freely and sing rhapsodically. The MIDI computer synthesiser track, pre-recorded, and with which the pianist simply plays along, just presents the notes as would an electric organ. So this fascinating work has yet to be performed in the manner intended by the composer, but we get a pretty good idea what it should sound like. The work is overwhelmingly dense—each few minutes has a much music as a whole movement of a more conventional piano sonata—and my feeling is that when an Ondes player is found who can manage it, cutting about 25 minutes from the middle section will provide a more satisfactory immediate musical experience. No doubt on repeated listening the overall structure would become evident and the full length version would become more accessible.

The Vivier work is a solo piano work which, again, shows off Pelletier’s astounding virtuosity. The title pays tribute to two blind Iranian singers heard by the composer, which experience inspired the work. Of Iranian singing I could hear very litte, but mostly, again, Messiaen-like tone clusters with perhaps a little of John Adams’ repetitive textures and some Lou Harrison gamelan music thrown in. This music makes more of a dramatic statement and is less "delirious." The skeptic in me must point out that with both these works only the composers, and they’re both dead, would know if the pianist actually played their scores or merely improvised a lot of plausible banging around.

That’s not actually fair; I really enjoyed much of this music, but I’m uncommonly tolerant, uncommonly open to new experiences. If you are also, then you will enjoy this important new release—certainly a must-have for those specially interested in modern Canadian music.

Paul Shoemaker

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.