Robert Steinberger, Vital, no. 1326, March 8, 2022

Ensemble SuperMusique is a small Canadian orchestra focussing on contemporary and mainly improvised music. Joane Hétu is a member of the ensemble and has composed the first piece that is presented here, Cléo Palacio-Quintin and Viviane Houle being the other two composers. All three pieces were created as an interplay between musical score and moving images. Essentially, if I understood correctly, the score itself was the moving pictures. As Danielle Palardy Roger rightly remarks in the liner notes, the visual part is lost in the audio recording. Supposedly it lives on in the music, but this would not be discernible to the listener. The title of the release, Sonne l’image = ’Sound the image’ (even better in English, due to the ambiguity it introduces), maps out the concept. All compositions were recorded in one set in Nov 2019.

La vie de l’esprit (Hétu) kicks off with a vocal part then moves into a thoughtful piece of interaction between piano and strings or wind instruments and percussion. The music erupts into hectic parts that involve more instruments from time to time (why is not known to us). With nearly 15 minutes in length, the piece builds little tension as it moves between the quiet and intense parts with little musical motivation. Fewer instruments and more tension might have been beneficial to the audio side of this event, though I did like the interplay with the electronic sounds and voices in the last third. Aléas: Révélations des pierres muettes (=revelations of mute stones) (Palacio-Quintin) creates the tension by starting and ending drone-like with a deep, vibrating tone that is then overlayed with sparsely set notes, then whispered voices are added. Instruments drop more notes here and there as the level builds and the whispers become audible voices. And then everything subsides again into the drone. I can, actually, conjure up imagery for this one. First Words (Houle) also uses voices (is this maybe the connecting element?) in a more ’instrumental’ way than the other two compositions. Again, there is more consistency in the piece. It moves from vocal beginnings to wind, wind instrument, percussion, sinewave generator, strings and others playing phrases, not just single notes, with the different instruments participating in creating a continuous backdrop from time to time (well balanced, not too often) interrupted by outbursts. The nicest one is the drum solo in the second half. It ends with a beautifully balanced succession of solo vocal, flutes, a racket of everyone, ebbing off into to flute melody.

It ends with a beautifully balanced succession of solo vocal, flutes, a racket of everyone, ebbing off into to flute melody.