PifarŽly, Couturier, Waldron

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Couturier,Pifarély,Waldron
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Poros; La nuit ravie; Retours; Labyrintus; Vertigo; Gala; Warm Canto
PERFORMER: Dominique Pifarély (violin)François Couturier (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 539 724-2
For their album Poros, violinist Dominique Pifarély and pianist François Couturier omit any reference to their work or to themselves save for a definition: ‘Poros – c’est seulement une voie maritime ou fluviale, l’ouverture d’un passage à travers une étendue chaotique…’ As their mission statement, charting the sea of infinite musical possibilities, it is sufficient. The performers’ reticence denotes the purity of their product, a concept album stripped down to its essential concept. All this may seem obscure to newcomers. They should persevere, however.

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Born in the matrix of improvisation and yet intuitively formal, the nine pieces on this disc offer an intriguing mix of 20th-century voices. A hymnic slow movement, Warm Canto, frantic scherzo, Retours and cyclical return of themes between sets of Images project a sonata-like shadow when heard in sequence. The key, however, lies in the duo’s moment-to-moment stylistic decisions: Grappelli by way of Shostakovich in Poros itself, the second piece, plus leanings to Bartók and folklore in Vertigo and La nuit ravie. Though closely recorded, the performances are never overwhelming and sound technically brilliant. Nicholas Williams