A new bunch of CDs from Ambiances Magnetiques. From Goldstein and Wiens we know earlier releases as a trio with Ganesh Anandan and John Heward. This time Jean Derome is their partner. As a trio however they have already performed for a longer time. On april 12th, 2013 they recorded this crystal clear recording in the studio. Goldstein playing violin, Wiens mainly prepared electric guitar plus kalimba, and Derome alto sax, flute and objects. Intense and concentrated improvisations with lots of colour and sounds. Fine interplay and interaction between these reputed players, with some breath-taking moments. Like Derome, Robert Marcel Lepage is one of the founding members of Ambiances Magnétiques. He didn’t release many albums in the last few years if I’m right, but now he strikes back with two releases. He presents the more light-hearted and accessible part of the Montréal musical spectrum. Le lait maternel contains 18 compositions Lepage wrote between 2003 and 2010 for film. It has some very catchy tunes like the jumpy Le Rock du Bungalow that evokes orchestral film music from the 60s. Good time music! Very friendly music, tapping from a diversity of styles and idioms. Pieces on Canard Branchu leave some more room for improvisation, but in essence this is also an album of melodious and harmonious music, typical for the Ambiances scene since the 80s. Again performed for a big ensemble of 9 musicians. So both albums offer a bunch of well-defined tunes, dressed up in fine arrangements giving voice to many different instruments and sounds. They may not surprise you, but will sure entertain you. With the new release by Palardy we turn again to a more serious face of this scene. Again we are dealing with one of the early member of the Ambiances scene. Self-taught Danielle Palardy Roger made her mark since the early 80s with groups like Justine, Wondeur Brass and Les Poules. In the last few years — since about 1998 — she concentrates on writing for Ensemble SuperMusique, an ensemble that was founded by her. Compared with earlier projects by her, this one is most close to composed new music and deals with the play between improvisation and composition. Le Caillou is one of her oldest and most played works for this ensemble. It “is a simple game piece in which the players pass the musical development of the piece to each other while building up a slow crescendo; another set of instructions tells the musicians to trace back their steps and play as exactly as possible what they did play the first time around”, Roger explains. The one that surprised me most this time is Quartetski doing Stravinsky. Quartetski is a project founded by Pierre-Yves Martel in 2007, focused on reinterpreting works of classical composers in an improvised setting. They reworked compositions by Prokofiev, Purcell, Satie, Ellington, Cage, a.o. Because of the 100th anniversary of Stravinsky´s Rite of Spring they decided to chose this work. Besides Pierre-Yves Martel (viola da gamba, objects), we hear Isaiah Ceccarelli (drums), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Philippe Lauzier (bass clarinet, soprano sax) and Joshua Zubot (violin). Marvellous job in transposing this orchestral work for small ensemble. Martel started from Stravinsky’s two-piano version of this composition. His re-working leaves the original work in tact concerning spirit, energy and drive that is in the original piece. Adding room for improvisation. Chapeau!