Sound to the point of intoxication

Concerts 06.12.2022

Getting young people to come to concerts and to do so finding a welcoming venue and content that attracts them is the challenge Laurent Jacquier set himself when he founded his Marathon festival, which has been playing to full houses every year since 2014.  

The annual rendez-vous is at the Gaîté Lyrique, with six hours of non-stop music (from 6:30 pm to 12:30 am), draining the audience from one room to another, alternating between the two in an impeccable cross-fade. Laurent Jacquier 's artistic proposal is plural, where the electrified world of improvised music rubs up against acoustic instruments and the more written pages of music. Whatever it is, it is heard standing up, with a glass in hand, or not, as the case may be.

We are welcomed at 6:30 p.m. sharp in the historic Foyer and its elegant moldings by the pianist Trami Nguyen (pianist of the Links ensemble) who has just begun to play: it is the aquatic element that draws the poetic horizon of her program with Maurice Ravel first, his Jeux d'eau and then Une barque sur l'océan, the third piece of the cycle of Miroirs, allowing us to appreciate the fluidity and elegance of the pianist's gesture in the generous acoustics of this beautiful space. She ends this (too) short sequence with Ligeti's Cordes à vide , etude 2 from the first book, whose rhythmic and harmonic wiggles prolong the swaying movement of the Ravetian piano. The keyboard playing is more muscular and the clarinet is tinged with the colors of klezmer music in the duo YOM (alias Guillaume Humery) and Léo Jassef installed in this same Foyer a few moments later. Their improvised music draws from the repertoire of Eastern music, between nostalgic outpouring and energetic rhythm. The long, twirling cadence of YOM's continuous breath measures the virtuoso performance of the clarinetist, who was duly applauded.

DJ Joakim, installed on the edge of the stage, needs the space of the Great Hall and the four sides of the wall for his immersive audio-visual show at the crossroads of worlds, "a clever mixture of vibrations, frequencies, and pulsations", writes the versatile artist: no title to this proposal but a low-voltage sound universe, mixing field recording, instrumental sonorities and synthetic materials. On the front wall, a montage of images as brief as they are disparate is looped, while the side walls give pride of place to the animal kingdom and to species of all kinds. More enigmatic, the back wall also displays text that resonates with the ecological commitment that drives the DJ.

The contemporary Cabaret that follows him has taken over the stage and multiplied the decibels: the always very active group comes back with a music to dance to whose five instrumentalists - electric guitar and bass, piano, synthesizer/sampler and percussion - maintain the sound flow with a galvanizing rhythmic frenzy and an always very sharp search for color, that of the piano in particular, played in the strings with this repetitive and obsessive gesture that leads to the trance.

TheLinks ensemble, a faithful member of the Marathon - pianos, percussion and digital keyboards - is scheduled in the Great Hall at 10 pm. It is installed in the center of the space, so as to be surrounded by the public. Laurent Durupt and Trami Nguyen face each other, hyper concentrated and unperturbed, in Piano Phase by Steve Reich. The piece (1967) by the American minimalist is from the composer's first attempts at instrumental writing, when he decided to test his phasing/de-phasing processes with acoustic instruments. The two pianos begin in unison and then gradually become desynchronized, giving rise to all sorts of resulting rhythmic figures, even though they are not written in the score, in a movement of incessant transformation that is both haunting and fascinating. Much less known and all the more striking, the piece Proverbis a much less well known and all the more striking piece (1995), which explores new horizons in Reich's aesthetic. The piece invites the singers of Sequenza 9.3 (three sopranos and two tenors), two synthesizers and two vibraphones on stage. A devotee of early music, Reich turns to the first polyphonies of the Middle Ages, drawing directly on the model of the four-voice organum of Perotin, from which he retains the spirit if not the letter: held notes (instrumental or vocal) on which more animated figures are inscribed, sung or relayed by the two vibraphones. Rémi Durupt is the conductor, adjusting very precisely the mechanisms of this beautiful sound architecture. The very pure voices of Sequenza 9.3 seduce, just like the instrumental arrangement, listened to with the same curious attention of the public, more distressed perhaps but just as conquered by the excellence of the sound realization.

We are less seduced by the percussion duo Ding Dong (alias Cosmic Neman and Guillaume Quéméré Lantonnet) from whom we expected more to highlight the exploratory potential of their instrumental sets deployed in the Foyer moderne. IfAlexandre Bazin 's electroacoustic performance suffers from the ambient noise of this same Foyer where all the public converges, Neel and Donato Dozzy, alias Voices From the Lake, now used to marathon programming, hold all our attention. With a smoke machine blurring the edges of the stage of the Great Hall, the two sound artists gradually conquer their audience, which they take on board to the rhythm of their "ambient music" - stretched time and chiselled sound figures - which, as Brian Eno explains, " can be actively listened to or ignored", at the late hour of the performance that comes to close this Great Evening.

Michèle Tosi

Paris, Gaîté Lyrique, 3-12-2022
With : Trami Nguyen (Maurice Ravel and György Ligeti) ; DJ Joakim ; Yom and Léo Jassef (piano and clarinet) ; Cabaret Contemporain ; Ding Dong ; Ensemble Links and Sequenza 9.3 (Steve Reich) ; Alexandre Bazin ; Voices from The Lake.

Photos © retross.e


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