- Composer(s): Danielle Palardy Roger, Joane Hétu, Lisa Cay Miller
- Performer(s): Ensemble SuperMusique, Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Guido Del Fabbro, Jean Derome, Bernard Falaise, Joane Hétu, Aaron Lumley, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Jean René, Danielle Palardy Roger, Alexandre St-Onge, Scott Thomson, Ida Toninato
- Graphic design: Fabrizio Gilardino
- Mastering: Ross Murray
- Canada Council for the Arts • SODEC
Since the Ensemble SuperMusique was founded, one of our main concerns has been to explore improvisation and the way it could be integrated to (or even become an intergral part of) written music. Graphic scores has thus seemed to us as a most suitable working tool. Indeed, graphic scores allow the musicians to follow more or less elaborate paths to either freely improvise, originally interpret sets of instructions or play written music. This album features three compositions using graphic scores to attain the same goal: to offer the musicians involved as much freedom as possible within a very precise framework. Each one of these compositions presents the musicians with very different options and frameworks, from the broadest to the narrowest. Danielle Palardy Roger’s composition is a journey through time. The drawn elements of her graphic score bear an apparent similarity to traditionally notated music, but they cannot be precisely read by the players, thus retaining the composition’s variable and subjective distinctiveness. In Joane Hétu’s composition, the players are required as well to follow a very detailed temporal journey in which contrasting moods follow each other. All instructions are provided by words, drawings and colors; the musicians then constantly navigate between more “fixed” and more “blurry” sections. Finally, Lisa Cay Miller’s composition works on two different levels. At first visually presented as a checkerboard on which the players move, it incorporates at the same time traditionally notated phrases. Musicians must then switch from free improvised sections to precisely notated rhythmic patterns.
Les porteuses d’Ô (The Water Carriers) features three composers who are actively involved in musique actuelle and improvised music’s creation and distribution: Lisa Cay Miller, with NOW Society in Vancouver; Joane Hétu and Danielle Palardy Roger, with SuperMusique in Montréal. Les porteuses d’Ô seemed a very proper title indeed. Not only because it makes a direct reference to Lisa Cay Miller’s composition, but also because it admirably depicts three women who, with all their strenght and determination, have been carrying on their shoulders (and still do) whatever it needs to sustain and develop new and creative music.
This compositions have been commissioned and premiered thanks to Productions SuperMusique and Le Vivier — Carrefour des musiques nouvelles in Montréal. Our sincere thanks to all the musicians involved for their unrelenting commitment.
- Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 239 / 2017
- UPC/EAN 771028123926
- Total duration: 40:49
14 wind instruments, 4 string instruments, processing and percussionEnsemble SuperMusique (Cléo Palacio-Quintin, flutes; Jean Derome, alto saxophone, flute, objects; Ida Toninato, baritone saxophone; Scott Thomson, trombone; Guido Del Fabbro, violin; Jean René, viola; Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, cello; Aaron Lumley, double bass; Bernard Falaise, electric guitar; Alexandre St-Onge, electric bass; Isaiah Ceccarelli, drum set; Danielle Palardy Roger, percussion)
3Ensemble SuperMusique (Cléo Palacio-Quintin, flutes; Jean Derome, alto saxophone, flute, objects; Joane Hétu, alto saxophone, voice; Ida Toninato, baritone saxophone; Scott Thomson, trombone; Guido Del Fabbro, violin; Jean René, viola; Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, cello; Aaron Lumley, double bass; Bernard Falaise, electric guitar; Alexandre St-Onge, electric bass; Isaiah Ceccarelli, drums, xylophone)
Les porteuses d’Ô
CDAM 23910,17 CAD
Some Recommended Items
In the Press
Zdeněk Slabý, His Voice, October 1, 2018
John Eyles, The Squid’s Ear, July 23, 2018Together, these three very different compositions show radically contrasting facets of ESM and demonstrate that it is in excellent shape as it enters its third decade.
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, May 11, 2018What makes Ensemble SuperMusique special is that each of their dozen discs finds a way of harnessing the many different ways that composers and players utilize the balance between written and unwritten extremes.
Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 23:8, May 1, 2018Additional strength is given to the track’s political message by repeated scrapes on bare acoustic strings plus Ida Toninato’s gusty baritone saxophone.
Stuart Broomer, Musicworks, March 1, 2018Each of these highly inventive, heterodox works gains immensely from the Ensemble’s precision and improvisatory skills, making the most of these pieces whatever their specific demands.
Philippe Desjardins, Le canal auditif, February 21, 2018… Les Porteuses d’Ô garde les oreilles captivées à travers les trois pièces, renouvelant l’anticipation un son à la fois.
Mike, Avant Music News, December 18, 2017… recommended.
Fittingly, Les porteuses d’Ô was released in January 2018, the year marking the twentieth anniversary of the formation of Montréal’s Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM). In the years of its existence, the ensemble has explored ways of integrating improvisation with composed music, commissioning over fifty compositions that combine the two. So, it is no surprise that this landmark album features three new graphically-scored compositions which aim to do just that. The line-up of ESM has evolved throughout its lifetime, with few ever-present members; of the twenty-six players credited on ESM’s debut album, Canevas (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2004), only four feature among the thirteen on Les porteuses d’Ô — alto saxophonist and flautist Jean Derome, alto saxophonist and vocalist Joane Hétu, alto Jean René and percussionist Danielle Palardy Roger. ESM co-founders Hétu and Palardy Roger supplied two of the album’s compositions, the third coming from Vancouver-based Lisa Cay Miller; yes, all three pieces do have female composers.
Recorded live in concert, in Montréal, in April 2017, together the pieces run for just over forty minutes, the three being of similar lengths. The album opens with Palardy Roger’s 2014-15 piece En arrivant par le nuage de Oort, the title referring to the theoretical Oort cloud of icy objects, the origin of long-period comets such as Hale-Bopp. Palardy Roger says that “the unfolding of the composition evokes the journey one might undertake between the Oort cloud and the Sun.” Of course, the danger of such a statement is that the composition in question is listened to as programme music, with the listener literally interpreting each sound. To combat that, it would be useful to see the graphic scores themselves, but this CD does not include any of them, only their composers’ notes on them. Suffice to say that the music feels true to its composer’s intention; its soundscape begins with lots of small percussive sounds surrounded by space, and gradually becomes fuller, louder and more intense as it builds steadily to a climax.
By comparison, the next piece, from 2015-17, Hétu’s Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant, is far more garrulous and dramatic. Fittingly, the fifteen-minute track opens with a theatrical drum roll which leads into a prolonged passage of discordant sounds from the nine musicians involved, heralding the arrival of the composer’s own voice. From there on, the piece is episodic with that voice dominating. As the composition focuses on four “concerns that can insidiously interfere in our lives”, starting with “To Fall from High”, there is plenty of scope for expressive outpourings of emotion and angst, including weeping and wailing. The calmer instrumental passages provide welcome periods of respite.
The album closes with Miller’s 2017 composition Water Carrier which (in translation) is practically the title piece. Inspired by the issue of drinking water rights of First Nation communities in Canada, it is wholly instrumental, successfully integrating composed and improvised music. It features some poignantly melodic passages played by the ensemble’s strings. These are interspersed with some strongly rhythmic sections and others with a clear jazz influence.
Together, these three very different compositions show radically contrasting facets of ESM and demonstrate that it is in excellent shape as it enters its third decade.
Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM) is an ongoing (since 1998) large with a dozen discs on the great Quebec-based Ambiances Magnetiques label which began in 1984 and soon the celebrate their 35th anniversary. This version of ESM features 13 members from Quebec and Ontario including prominent names like Jean Derome (alto sax & flutes), Joane Hetu (alto sax & voice), Scott Thomson (trombone), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Isaiah Ceccarelli & Danielle Palardy Roger (percussion). Each disc by ESM features different musician/composers leading the ensemble. For this disc we have three long works led by Danielle Palardy Roger and Joane Hetu (both co-leaders of ESM) and guest composer/director Lisa Cay Miller. ESM has long worked with the idea of the balance between composed and freely improvised musics. In the liner notes, we get an explanation of the intention for each of the composers. Ms. Roger’s En arrivant par le nuage de Oort is based on a graphic score which represents a journey through space from the Oort Cloud (past Pluto) to the Sun. Our journey begins quietly and is filled with an eerie sense of mystery. The density slowly get thicker throughout, the sounds vibrating, the intensity escalating as we move through space. Ms. Hetu’s Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant deals with the ever-present interference which goes on in our lives. Ms. Hetu provides some minimal seasoning with some consistently weird/hilarious vocal sounds which fit perfectly with the way this piece unfolds, with unexpected bits of interference. Guest composer Lisa Cay Miller’s Water Carrier deals with drinking water quality in Canada, especially the dilemma of the First Nations bad water quality. The score itself involves a checkerboard which prompts the players to switch from notated to freely improvised sections. The music sounds like directed improv, focused and engaging, with selects bursts of activity between obviously written sections. What makes Ensemble SuperMusique special is that each of their dozen discs finds a way of harnessing the many different ways that composers and players utilize the balance between written and unwritten extremes.
Larger than the former group and more obvious in its use of strings, percussion and electronics is Montréal’s Ensemble SuperMusique (Ambiances Magnétiques AM 239 CD actuellecd.com). The tracks on Les porteuses d’Ȏ are also less homogeneous than on other discs. Although these single compositions by ensemble founders, percussionist Danielle Palardy Roger and saxophonist Joane Hétu (plus one from Vancouver’s Lisa Cay Miller) utilize a mixture of notation and improvisation, the results are undeniably divergent. Ostensibly about Canadian drinking water rights, Miller’s Water Carrier is multisectional, with strident tutti interludes. Otherwise, the narrative depends on contrasts between upbeat concert band-like melodies from the horns and Guido Del Fabbro’s delicately formal violin elaboration, with the churning rural landscape characterized by Bernard Falaise’s clanking guitar effects, plus primitivist slashes from Alexandre St-Onge’s electric bass and electronics. Additional strength is given to the track’s political message by repeated scrapes on bare acoustic strings plus Ida Toninato’s gusty baritone saxophone. Describing a journey among the planets, Roger’s En arrivant par le nuage de Oort uses electronic crackles and pops to underscore the extraterrestrial journey. With echoing percussive swats from her kit and that of Isaiah Ceccarelli, rugged reed smears and sprung sul ponticello pressure from Del Fabbro, violist Jean René and cellist Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, plus some snarls and growls from trombonist Scott Thomson, the composition reflects the energy and turbulence of the heliocentric world. And like the predicted end of the universe, the tremolo piece doesn’t climax, it just ends. Based on mumbled vocalese, Hétu’s Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant is more problematic since her gargles, whoops and whines are often incomprehensible. Melodramatic and dissonant string section swipes, guitar flanges, buzzing wave forms and unfocused drum beats contribute to the verbal commotion, rather than framing or defining it.
In its first twenty years under founders Danielle Palardy Roger and Joane Hétu, Montréal’s Ensemble SuperMusique has established itself as Canada’s most broadly exploratory midsize ensemble (here numbering thirteen), investigating and combining contemporary composition, graphic notation, and collective improvisation. Les porteuses d’Ô presents interpretations of three recent graphic scores, each of which has strongly programmatic content and challenges the ensemble in different ways.
Roger’s En arrivant par le nuage de Oort (2014—15) is a graphic score that resembles conventional notation, creating an ambiguous ground for the members of the ensemble. The work describes a cosmic journey from the Oort Cloud — the ring of comets orbiting the sun at the outer edges of the solar system — to the sun itself. It’s a journey from darkness to absolute light, marked by rising pitch and volume, accelerating events, and an expansion of orchestral colour that grows in intensity throughout its thirteen-minute duration. It’s a singular, initially gradual movement, but the passage through space is marked by sudden flashes of brilliance.
Hétu’s Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant (2015—17) the CD’s centrepiece, is inspired by “various concerns that can insidiously interfere in our lives.” There are four concerns here, two with multiple forms: falling from high (including effervescence and fainting), states (coup d’états and states of mind), bitter oranges (an inspired list of expired foods, among them putrid steak and rancid nuts: the items are called out throughout the work’s duration), and the “tone of your voice.” The musicians follow a sequence of words, drawings and colours, and the piece teems with high spirits, good humour and explosive invention, highlighted by a duet between Hétu (voice) and Jean Derome (alto saxophone).
B.C. composer Lisa Cay Miller’s Water Carrier (2017), is inspired by issues of water rights in Canada and uses mixed materials, including graphic scoring (a checkerboard), standard rhythmic notation, and free improvisation. No detailed programmatic concordance to the work is supplied, but it abounds in unusual textures, including a full-ensemble passage in which Ensemble SuperMusique’s horns and rhythm section sound like a traditional jazz big band, while the strings play contrasting parts from the vocabulary of European high modernism. Other unlikely textures include the opening passage in which grinding, discordant, bowed strings give way to episodic, liquid intrusions from Bernard Falaise’s guitar amid consonant pizzicato passages.
Each of these highly inventive, heterodox works gains immensely from the Ensemble’s precision and improvisatory skills, making the most of these pieces whatever their specific demands.
L’Ensemble SuperMusique est une formation active depuis une vingtaine d’années dans le milieu des musiques actuelle et improvisée. Une des particularités de cette formation est qu’elle est dirigée par les compositeurs/instrumentistes directement, selon les œuvres au programme. Dans ce contexte, leur nouvel album, Les Porteuses d’Ô (2017), ne fait pas vraiment suite à Jeux de Pistes (2016), et propose plutôt trois nouvelles compositions de Danielle Palardy Roger, Joane Hétu et Lisa Cay Miller; dont le thème met en scène des femmes (porteuses d’eau) qui alimentent le courant musical. L’album propose donc trois compositions jouées à partir de partitions graphiques (comparativement à des partitions écrites) qui mélangent savamment l’interprétation et l’improvisation pour créer trois grandes scènes sonores uniques en leur genre.
En arrivant par le nuage de Oort (Roger, 2014-15), commence sur un crépitement étouffé et quelques coups discrets de cymbales. Les souffles imitent une sorte de fournaise et participe à une trame atmosphérique épaissie par des bruits de combustion. Le passage arythmique mène à un pont plus calme formé de frottements de cordes joués en itérations, comme des moteurs d’embarcations auxquels les cuivres ajoutent des klaxons de différentes grandeurs. La partie rythmique revient à l’avant comme une pluie d’impacts dans la salle des machines, et laisse ensuite l’espace à un dernier passage dissonant, voire strident, qui siffle comme des bouilloires jusqu’à une fin abrupte.
Le roulement de tambour de Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant (Hétu, 2015-17) ouvre sur un ton circassien, les cordes simulant des acrobaties dans les hautes pendant que les percussions et «canard-qui-fait-squeak» mènent à la partie théâtrale, durant laquelle une voix clame comme prise sur une embarcation au milieu de la mer. La scène évolue davantage avec des segments plus denses et percussifs et une performance vocale dont le niveau de folie fait penser à une aile psychiatrique. Les acrobaties musicales sont surprenantes et leur virtuosité rappelle une forme de «mickey-mousing» avec tous les événements sonores virevoltant dans la pièce.
Les cordes miment des portes en bois qui grincent sur Water Carrier (Miller, 2017), la guitare et la basse établissent en parallèle une discussion entrecoupée de coups de pic et de pizzicatos. Tout s’arrête pour laisser le segment suivant prendre place, d’une façon un peu décousue d’abord, mais ça se clarifie à partir des interactions entre les instruments. Une autre pause brève mène ensuite à un segment jazz très bien rythmé, approfondi dans les basses avec les cordes et accentué par moment aux cuivres. Le mouvement suivant est bien plus ramolli avec une atmosphère dramatique, presque souffrante et fiévreuse. Le rythme reprend progressivement pour finir sur un dernier segment de musique de chambre.
Il y a une dimension théâtrale à ce nouvel album qui donne l’impression que les instrumentistes sont des comédiens et qu’une partie de la mise en scène leur appartient. On reconnaît des inspirations provenant de la musique bruitiste et des dessins animés en noir et blanc, deux éléments qui se combinent parfaitement avec l’improvisation. En ce sens, Les Porteuses d’Ô garde les oreilles captivées à travers les trois pièces, renouvelant l’anticipation un son à la fois.