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Marc Chénard, Coda Magazine, no 307, 1 janvier 2005

In this hour-long suite of 18 items penned by Robert Marcel Lepage, the listener is taken on a whimsical trip into the Machine for exploring tempo (a pun which plays on the French equivalent to H.G. Wells’ Time Machine, i.e. La Machine a explorer le temps"). In this instrumental work divided in three acts, the composer actually conducted an eclectic tentet, the core of whom are a baroque ensemble in Montréal called la Nef. Even more unusual is that this ensemble actually commissioned this suite for performance at a contemporary music festival held in March of 2003. And to make things even more curious, when have you have heard a lineup that includes viola de gamba, ritual flutes, sackbut, slide guitare, sampler and tabla? Lepage regularly composes for film, and this is a music of images, of stylistic references galore but of no single or underlying vision. This is light-hearted stuff, which the composer further underscores in his whimsical presentations between the acts. Despite brave attempts to translate parts of his narrations in the liner notes, much of the humor is lost and the spoken tracks will appear pointless to non-speakers of French. In this highly structured music, there is very little soloing, but trombonist extraordinaire Alain Trudel makes the most of his spots. If the music makes you smile, it will have accomplished its aim, so it’s best not to expect any heady stuff. (PS. I attended this performance, and smiled, too.)

If the music makes you smile, it will have accomplished its aim…

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