Trying to describe this double CD in a short review is like condensing War And Peace into 25 words. There’s just too much going on to do it justice. The sleeve does a good job, suggestive as it is of dreamy, other-worldly soundscapes featuring unicorns and maidens in ponds.
The CD opens with a haunting bird cry — it’s the black-throated loon (possibly as seen on the sleeve artwork) — and piano and voice mimicking that cry.
Then it’s Opus Pocus Fantienne, which features piano and flute and possesses a magical air; it sounds like the music to a 60s children’s television programme set in space or a wood, Pogles’ Wood meets Clangers. That’s not derogatory: it’s got a playful feel (see the title) and that other-worldly quality.
The same is true of Phantasion, a solo flute section being particularly Clangers-ish, and the flute-heavy Air Dans L’Air.
Lumieres d’Etoiles changes the tone, with a faster section of piano that’s almost a danceable folk tune — we reviewed some Percy Grainger the other week, and the opening section is much like a Grainger sea shanty. Fantasia on Scarborough Fair presents a dreamy rendering of the famous folk tune.
CD2 opens reasonably conventionally with Night Struck and Winter Vigil, with the land of fairies and unicorns staying quiet until Reve et Lune, thanks to soprano Ruxandra Ibric Cioranu (she who sings with loons from CD1).
The longest piece is the 27m 28s of Miroir D’un Mirage, the six movements called O-N-D-IN- E. We had to resort to Mr Google for this, which told us that Gaspard De La Nuit was a suite of pieces for solo piano by Maurice Ravel, based on the poem Ondine, a tale of a water fairy singing to seduce the observer into visiting her kingdom deep at the bottom of a lake. Opening with migratory aquatic birds, tales of water fairies? There’s a definite watery theme going on, though it’s all quite earthy at the same time.
Other parts of the album, such as the string quartet (played by the CelliniQuartet) Rêverie-Jeux De Pluie are more traditional.
Overall: a fascinating piece of work, guaranteed to make your dreamlike reveries seem all the more fantastical. Incidentally: Amazon was only able to suggest one other option in its “people who liked this also like”…. facility, an Eric Satie; normally it suggests at least half a dozen, an indication of this work’s singularity. We’ve ordered the Satie.
Out now on Divine Art, DDA21226.