Discover

The music

Five renowned composers: Alexandre Grogg, François Vallières, Marjan Mozetich, Caroline Lizotte, and Kelly-Marie Murphy. These exclusively Canadian works are completed by Cogs in Cogs by Gentle Giant, illustrating the true extent of their transfiguration.

Album cover
Album back cover

The Works

Three variations on La Folia

Alexandre Grogg
*featuring Bernard Riche on drums
  1. Aria
  2. Promenade
  3. Ahmad

An earworm having stood the test of time, La Folia first appeared in 16th century Portugal. Many noteworthy composers have been entranced by its simple but catchy chord succession, resulting in a great number of variations throughout the ages. The cello-and-harp arrangement of Three variations on La Folia by Alexandre Grogg is derived from a version for jazz trio, piano, and harp. In the first movement, entitled Aria, the theme is exposed in its purest form. An attacca connection brings us to the second movement, Promenade, reminding us of the great bossa novas. The music explodes in Ahmad, a flamboyant final movement in homage to the celebrated American pianist Ahmad Jamal. Shattering jazz harmonies engulf the listener, supported by Bernard Riche at the drums. In a faithful representation of Ahmad Jamal’s jazz trio format, we are privy to a controlled improvisatory setting displaying the best of the artists.

In the spirit of François Vallières, Double-Monologue is an evocation of two talkative individuals who occupy the same room but refuse to listen to each other. Ideas flying around, fragmenting themselves to no end: we witness a true pastiche of contemporary society’s addiction to social media. On the musical front, melodic and rhythmical motifs swirl around, becoming redundant, and evolution is sketched out, though never quite achieved. The listener is compelled to follow along, witnessing two repelling magnets try everything in their power to interlock. Insofar as they are able, the cello and harp navigate a series of loops and, in the process, become both closer and further from each other. Composed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subtitle Divertissement sanitaire, or “sanitary entertainment”, becomes significant when taken into context: not only is it enigmatic of our time, but it is also a self-deprecating and whimsical nod by the composer.

Double-Monologue II

Divertissement sanitaire

François Vallières

Transfigured Sentiment

Marjan Mozetich

The plot takes place in Japan. From afar, one notices a 15-year-old woman, full of dreams and hope. An American navy officer arrives, in search of a convenient marriage. This encounter – the starting point of the tragedy portrayed in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – directly inspired Marjan Mozetich for his piece Transfigured Sentiment. The opening bars expose Puccini’s original melody in a pure and transparent manner, in which Mozetich opts for near-unison lines for both instruments. The thematic material transforms itself endlessly throughout the work, projecting varying light on the expressed sentiment. The unexpected closing lines are, in Mozetich’s words: “A cry for life, a cry for death.” The culmination is an outcome so powerful, yet irrevocable, in accordance with Madama Butterfly’s tragic fate.

A trip to Edinburgh, Scotland greatly inspired Caroline Lizotte, so much so that she decided to compose Close for Couloir upon her return. Suffused with Scotland’s rich and epic history – namely its closes, or stone corridors skirting a castle – the work poetically brings to light themes close to our heart, such as war, love, and peace. Many an effect characterize the work, Lizotte imaginatively incorporating various objects to the musicians’ instruments. A unique sound spectrum is created, whether it be by using cork to depict cromlechs – the legendary stone circles – or loose horsehair to illustrate wind blowing over bloodstained dunes, following the deadly battle of Red Harlaw. An evocation of A Man’s A Man For a’ That, a song by the celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns, concludes the work, but Lizotte opts for a revised meter. Originally in binary form, a reimagined trinary structure brings a floating quality to the piece; eternally, it drifts for what seems to be from the feudal age, a telltale of peace after war

Close for Couloir, Opus 48

Caroline Lizotte
  1. Cromlech (Ring O’Brodgar)
  2. Clans (Battle O’Harlaw)
  3. The Sodger An’ The Queen (Edinburgh Castle)
  4. Gargoyle Sang (Melrose Abbey)
  5. Man to Man (The World O’er Shall Brithers Be For A’ That)

Swan to Swan

Alexandre Grogg

A work shedding light on numerous swans of the past, Swan to Swan by Alexandre Grogg explores the might of the majestic bird’s musical inspiration. For centuries, the swan has instilled delicate musical lines in composers’ minds. In this case, Grogg draws on four of these famous melodies: Orlando Gibbons (The Silver Swan), Jean Sibelius (The Swan of Tuonela), Samuel Barber (Un Cygne, from his Mélodies passagères, Op. 27) and Camille Saint-Saëns (Le Cygne, from the Carnaval des animaux). At the heart of Grogg’s inspiration, this latter melody by Saint-Saëns was the first piece ever interpreted by this album’s duo, consolidating their musical bond many years ago. The title, Swan to Swan, indicates passage without pause or hesitation between the various swans (the French title D’un Cygne l’autre is based upon Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novel D’un château l’autre). Beginning in the 17th century, the madrigal by Gibbons gently metamorphoses into Sibelius’s celebrated symphonic poem, in which the English horn’s singing line is beautifully adapted for the cello. The work’s pinnacle follows, culminating with a magnificent Barber and a touching Saint-Saëns

Ben seni severim… Three words in Hebrew, genuine and authentic, ingenuously translated into the English equivalent: I love you… That is the singular essence of this Sephardic proverb, reminding us of the true meaning of giving. A Ladino nursery rhyme originating in Turkey and the Balkans, Si veriash a la rana was a great source of inspiration for Kelly-Marie Murphy in composing the passionate, virtuosic, and sensational work. This arrangement for cello and harp is derived from her Concerto for Cello, Harp and Orchestra, entitled En El Escuro Es Todo Uno (In The Darkness All Is One). Originally a large symphonic work featuring an impressive percussion section, Murphy showcases both instruments in stellar fashion: ankle bells, guitar plectrums, and percussive knocks are only some of the brilliant effects featured. The opening lines of prayer and meditation put the listener in a trance-like state, and then the fun begins: a vertiginous rhythm commences, relentlessly sweeping us away till the final dizzying chord.

Si veriash a la rana

Kelly-Marie Murphy

Cogs in Cogs

Gentle Giant / arr. François Vallières
*featuring Bernard Riche on drums

The resulting concept of this album is that all elements can transfigure into one symbiotic entity, consummating into a unified outcome. Hence, Gentle Giant’s Cogs in Cogs, featured on the progressive rock band’s album The Power and the Glory, issues from this process. Arranged here by François Vallières, a keen fan of the band’s rhythmical exploits, the two artists are rejoined by Bernard Riche at the drums for an intense but brief encounter. Progressive rock of the 1970s often put forth lengthy tunes; here, we find an exception to the rule. The complete cohesion of the interpretation is palpable, and as the gears interlock, we witness an ultimate transfiguration.