AMN Reviews: Brice Catherin – Early Works [pyr133]

1coul-1024x1024This collection of work by composer/cellist Brice Catherin features five pieces composed during the period 2002-2005, when Catherin was a student in Geneva, Switzerland. With the exception of one work for bassoon and orchestra, the pieces are scored for soloists or small ensembles.

In a nice bit of symmetry, the release opens and closes with works for percussion, 2003’s Pérégrémotions I for three percussionists (Alexandra Bellon, Claire Defet and Guy-Loup Boisneau) and 2005’s Pérégrémotions II for solo percussionist (Boisneau), both of which were recorded live in 2011 in Geneva. The two works have in common the integration of voice with the instruments, which in the later work becomes a decidedly comic device; the performance is occasionally punctuated by the laughter of children in the audience. Pérégrémotions I is notable for its use of hocketing and of otherwise passing fragmented rhythmic phrases around among the three players.

Erster Verlust (2002), a three-part work for virtuoso solo baritone saxophone, energetically performed by Vincent Daoud, weaves a mixed tissue of timbral effects liberally drawing on the use of the instrument’s extreme upper register, overblowing, multiphonics, voiced notes and trilling glissandi. Träumerei (2002), another tripartite work, this time for voice, cello, saxophones and percussion, is structured as a set of events integrating extreme vocalizing—growls, cries, shouts, (intentional?) coughs—into more or less separate episodes for the instrumental ensemble. The five-movement Symphonie Consternante (2005), like Erster Verlust recorded live at the Eglise Saint-Francois in Lausanne in May 2010, is scored for bassoon and a small orchestra of paired winds, trumpet, tuba, four double basses and percussion. The performance is notable for the effective timbral contrasts between the low strings and flutes, and for the textural variety provided by solo passages balanced with ensemble work.

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