Bruno Duplant/Guy Vandromme - l'infini des possible [Elsewhere Music - 2021]
l'infini des possible is a two-CD/ digital download release that brings together twelve solo piano pieces from prolific French composer Bruno Duplant. Each is decidedly sparse, fragile and stripped, though there is a fair bit of variation over the disc's runtime- as the pieces scores are made lowercase letters (a, b, c, d, e, f, g) with spaces in between- meaning the pianist has an openness to their interpretation the work.
The release appears on US’s Elsewhere Music- and I’m reviewing the double CD version of the release. The two discs come presented in a mini gatefold- fitting the sound within this is very minimal with on the outside a white cover, featuring small black texts and a light grey and white boxes- with the front one of these featuring a series of blurred black lines. Inside we get the tracklisting/ credits on one side, on the other a write up about the album's pieces. Not sure how many were pressed of these, though I wouldn’t imagine it’s a huge pressing- so if this is your thing, act sooner than later by heading here.
The twelve tracks were composed in 2019- and these take on them were played by Belgium based pianists Guy Vandromme in his home studio between March and May 2021. All the tracks were played on Steinway & sons C-grand piano, which was made in 1896- and the instrument certainly has a beautiful tone and clarity to it, but of course, it’s down to having a talented and careful player to hand to get the best out of it, and Vandromme certainly is that.
Each disc features six tracks- and these each run between eight and fifteen minutes- with they only really ask on Vandromme playing been that it remains sober, slow and sweetly melancholic- and the tracks certainly tick all of those boxes. Though that said the pianists debated/ discussed the playing of these 12 pieces by a series of in-depth discussions with Duplant over a two year period.
On the first disc, we move from the slow bounding-then- reverberations of “étude no. 2” with its blend of lightly climb and forlornly hopeful mid-range notation and sudden lower darts. Onto the sparsely darting-to-spaced regal sweetness of “étude no. 4” which alternates between eerily spaced mid key shifts and harmonically elegant note clusters. With the first disc playing out with the longest track here- the spot on fifteen minutes of “étude no. 6” which finds lightly sustained mid to low notation going against higher felt patterns.
On the second disc we start out with the creepily higher note cascading and uneasy mid-range flourishes of “étude no. 7”. As we move on we come to the bonding low end meets tight tolling highs of “étude no. 10”- which from time to time hints at a lightly climb and sad melody. Onto the doomed rolling strikes meets mid-ranged darting agility of “étude no. 11”, with the disc being topped off with the slowly galloping mid to high ranged key runs of “étude no. 12”.
l'infini des possible is a fine and varied collection of solo paino works- which both highlights Duplant’s talent as a creative composer, and Vandromme talent as daring-yet-always technically precise pianists. Certainly, of interest to anyone who enjoys sparse, yet inventive solo piano work. Roger Batty