AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Flore Laurentienne – Vol. II (Costume Records)

Being the second collection of orchestral vignettes by the exceptionally gifted Mathieu David Gagnon, a conservatory-trained producer and arranger from Montréal. The first volume garnered a slew of awards nominations in Canada in 2020-21 and there is no good reason Vol. II shouldn’t as well. 

Gagnon borrowed the name of his project from the first comprehensive botanical survey of southern Quebec and intends Flore Laurentienne as a repository for his reflections on mankind, nature and the relationship betwixt the two. 

While clarinet, piano, electronics and organ each take star turns, it is the sweeping, unabashedly romantic string ensemble, infused with a retro-cinematic that captures the heart. The relatively short but frankly stunning eight pieces compiled for Vol. II are verdant yet urbane, as the bustle of town and city pulses along the shores of the St. Lawrence. Variations upon a theme, reminiscent of film score (one that definitely would star Audrey Hepburn) as much as classical composition, allow Gagnon to further delve into melody and mood – “Fleuves” for example, appearing in two versions on the first volume, is reworked twice more here. “Navigation” also appears in two distinct outfits. An absolutely scrumptious record; with the emergence of Flore Laurentienne, a bright, bracing look at the world cascades into view.

Stephen Fruitman