Geoffroy Couteau, François-Frédéric Guy - L'OBSCUR EST UN CHEMIN
- 01 Ce peu de bruit
- 02 Ses ailes deployees
- 03 Etoiles, trois preludes pour piano – No. 1 – Andante
- 04 Etoiles, trois preludes pour piano – No. 2 – Presto
- 05 Etoiles, trois preludes pour piano – No. 3 – Lento
- 06 L’obscur est un chemin
- 07 Catafalque, Tombeau de Johannes Brahms
- 08 Miracles des Soleils, Trois preludes pour piano. No. 1 – Andante
- 09 Miracles des Soleils, Trois preludes pour piano. No. 2 – Moderato
- 10 Miracles des Soleils, Trois preludes pour piano. No. 3 – Lento
- 11 El Borge pour 2 pianos – I. El Borge
- 12 El Borge pour 2 pianos – II. Comares
- 13 El Borge pour 2 pianos – III. Gaucin
- 14 El Borge pour 2 pianos – IV. Ronda
- 15 El Borge pour 2 pianos – V. Alhama de Granada
GEOFFROY COUTEAU, FRANÇOIS-FRÉDÉRIC GUY- L’OBSCUR EST UN CHEMIN
Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier Complete Piano Works
Booklet in .English, French and German.
Program notes by Nicolas Southon.
“… as played by Geoffroy Couteau, pretty well every bar here is in some way beautiful. This composer creates sound-worlds which – though not exactly tonal – radiate a comforting security… he manages his contrasts in colour and texture with considerable skill.”
BBC Music Magazine - Michael Church / 31 July 2015
“It’s customary for young composers to accompany new works with detailed pieces of exegesis: Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s CD benefits – if that’s the right word – from an encomium by musicologist Nicolas Southon. Bruneau-Boulmier’s work is ‘incontestably French by virtue of its refinement, its quest for a certain euphony, its extremely well-crafted writing, its self-restrained lyricism, and its skilful ability to make an acoustic space come into being’. His musical grammar encompasses ‘resonating textures, eruptive figures, powerful hammering, virtuosic toccatas, lyrical spirals across the keyboard’, plus the inevitable ‘mysterious silences’. Name-checked inspirations include Dylan Thomas, Serge Gainsbourg and Walter Benjamin; Brahms, Ravel and Albéniz are acknowledged influences.
Should a critic read this stuff before listening? I did, but it didn’t help. Yet, as played by Geoffroy Couteau, pretty well every bar here is in some way beautiful. This composer creates sound-worlds which – though not exactly tonal – radiate a comforting security, whether with wandering melodic lines or with noisy note-clusters; he manages his contrasts in colour and texture with considerable skill.
But after 20 minutes you realise you’ve heard all Bruneau-Boulmier tricks; each piece is a bright confection, but it’s a catalogue of effects with no dramatic structure. Only in the El Borge four-hand suite – pervaded by the spirits of Granados and Albéniz – does one have any sense of atmosphere or individuality; the residue of the rest is an elegant blur.”
Tuning Forks: 5/5
“The pianist’s personal commitment adds to the eloquence of his playing… Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s piano work, so dramatic at times, remains luminous and precise…”
Diapason - Gérard Condé / April 2015
Tuning Forks: 5/5
“Best known to music lovers for the quality of his appearances on France Musique Radio rather than for his compositions, Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier may see this situation change if these complete works for piano (2008-2014) get the success they deserve. Taking their titles or inspiration from literature and philosophy, these seven pieces constitute a remarkable body of work. Remarkable, firstly, by its interpretation: from the very first note, Geoffroy Couteau’s touch encompasses a thousand shades of chiaroscuro that form the sensitive heart of these vastly contrasting pages. The sustained drive of long sequences, breathing as they move forward, shows an overall picture just as treasurable. The pianist's personal commitment adds to the eloquence of his playing.
Remarkable also by its writing and authenticity, as the author lets his personality speak: explosions are rare but an underlying tension reveals fruitful prospects. And yet, Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s piano work, so dramatic at times, remains luminous and precise in its harmonic arrangements, always making the most of the instrument’s possibilities. The text of Nicolas Southon is a wealth of information which does not seek to influence the listener, because the originality of the language, almost always centered on recurring notes, falls within the lineage of Debussy, Dutilleux, Messiaen or Ohana.
Obviously, this music is "heard” and not simply “intended”; nothing obscures its structure, making the mystery of its effectiveness even more baffling: the ideas, always brought to term, are linked with great flexibility, some returning as memories and some evaporating or evolving. Wild like the Andalusia that inspired it, El Borge, for two pianos, also features François-Frédéric Guy.”
“… such beautiful results that we traveled these 65 minutes of music in complete rapture.”
Falcinelli.org - Sylviane Falcinelli / 21 April 2015
“This first disc (recorded in April 2014 but released last month) focuses on all his “authorised” catalog to date (from 2008 to February 2014), that he has deliberately restricted to the piano - an instrument of unlimited possibilities. The poetic titles reflect the importance of literature in his artistic world, and the music that follows does not betray this essence, but magnifies it. This gamble was risky, since a sense of monotony could result from the repetition of persistent aesthetic research, but said research produces such beautiful results that we traveled these 65 minutes of music in complete rapture. Another gamble: if the language of Rudolf Bruneau- Boulmier is thankfully devoid of the infamous neo-tonal temptation that infects so many colleagues of the young (and less young) generation, it is developed around the axis of pivotal notes (so dear to André Jolivet), with a strange and recurring attraction for the G, which made us fear the disc would turn into a "thing in G" (may the two Pierre - Henry and Schaeffer - forgive me for this transposition). But so much magic spreads around these axes that we do not suffer.
The oldest opus, Ce peu de bruit, opens with iridescences in need of an infinite range of shades before the rise of violent storms. The poetic faculties inherent to each register of the keyboard are fully exploited. This active contemplation of the piano’s resonant riches, of the expressive power and colors of each range and different attacks (always produced from the keyboard, not from the strings), will remain stronger than ever over the following years. Ses ailes déployées, (one of the two longer pieces on the disc) adds a predilection for ringing bell-like sounds and distant effects creating a deep sense of space.
In the Andante from Étoiles, trois préludes pour piano, sound contemplation combines the rarefied essence of its language to the fullness of wide resonance; similarly, the "fascinating bareness" of the final Lento - in the words of Nicolas Southon, author of a discerning notice - is minimalist in its statement but not in the harmonic language from which a few melodic phrases fly away.
Dazzling bursts of Boulezian reminiscences at times pass through the landscapes of Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier, especially when interspersed with virtuosity (Ses ailes déployées, Presto des Etoiles, the first and fourth parts of the cycle for two pianos), or when that "vital energy” comes into play (Catafalque); this last piece, subtitled Tombeau de Johannes Brahms, makes up so skilfully the quotes of Brahms’ Op.117 (alluding and dictated by the circumstances of the creation program) that it prevents this so-called "post-modern" (!) trend of collage only indicative of creative impotence. The range of tone colors - "fascinating", once again - between low rumblings and ringing trebles create a cascade of sympathetic resonance effects.
Low registers become ubiquitous and charged with mysteries and threats from a world beyond in L’obscur est un chemin, the most highly developed piece of the disc, while activity on the Earth's surface - we would say - unfolds in the midrange and treble. We witness here a whole range of supernatural, hypnotizing beauty. The crystalline altissimo of the ending abandons the low substrate reluctantly – without bringing itself to leave truly.
The most recent work, Miracles des Soleils, offers once again a triptych of short preludes: the first surrounds a monodic journey of ringing harmonics, the second evokes the rumblings of darkness, but with sober harmonic progressions, and the third creates a meditative and static atmosphere.
Geoffroy Couteau literally incorporates this language, and his attention to the beauty of the vibrations he aims to recreate can never be faulted.
In the final part, El Borge - a cycle for two pianos - evokes a trip in the mountains of Andalusia: in Comares, for example, stylized hispanisms appear as through the prism of scorching heat, and Alhama de Granada elicits a mysterious sensuality. But Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s writing for two pianos is only the outgrowth of his constant search for "wild" virtuosity or register interaction, and one would have expected this additional workforce to open new fields of investigation. This is the recording of Alla breve programs by France Musique (June 2013) which saw the birth of this cycle under the fingers of Geoffroy Couteau and François-Frédéric Guy, united as one.
Odradek studio’s Steinway B responds well to Geoffroy Couteau’s subtle touch even if once again we come to regret its limitations in the lower range.
We now hope that the young composer, going beyond his fusional love for the piano’s sound palette, spreads his mastery of tone colors to other forms of expression - repetition being a danger to any creator.”
“Geoffroy Couteau sheds light on the delicate embroidery of countermelodies… We can only hope that Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier soon adds a new chapter to his music.”
CLASSICA - Coline Oddon / May 2015
“Although we know Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier as a producer for France Musique Radio, it is less common to hear the composer. However, his debut CD was not done by half measures. We are indeed introduced to his complete works for piano, performed by the equally young Geoffroy Couteau. Seven pieces, written between 2008 and 2014, which indicate an already well defined artistic identity. Ce peu de bruits opens the recording with detached notes, precisely weighted by the pianist’s fingers among the resonances of a suspended acoustic landscape. Then some harsher interjections bring us back into focus. The Etoiles’ presto launches into virtuoso chatter punctuated by vibrating chords, quite literally. The aesthetic unity of Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier’s pieces is striking, to the point that it is embodied in a single note, G, “epicenter of the composer’s sound space”, in the words of Nicolas Southon. Ses ailes déployées is entirely guided by the common thread of this repeated G, over rhythms seemingly straight from avant-garde jazz.
Geoffroy Couteau sheds light on the delicate embroidery of countermelodies. Whether in L’Obscur est un chemin, which starts with an almost literal quotation of a section of Ses ailes déployées or through the shimmering colors of El Borge, a distinct compositional profile emerges. These complete works end with the resonances of the medium G, in the manner of a closed object. We can only hope that Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier soon adds a new chapter to his music.”
“‘We benefited from ideal conditions,’ remembers Geoffroy Couteau. ‘We were in Italy in Pescara, in the hands of a very competent and dedicated team’. In this musical oasis, a beautiful album was born…”
La Croix - Emmanuelle Giuuani / 3 June 2015
“What effect has on a thirty-something composer the release of his "complete works for piano", published on CD through the interpretation of one of the best pianists of the new generation? “I’d rather say that this is the first volume of these ‘complete works’”, a modest Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier smiles. The pieces that I wrote between 2009 and 2014. For the rest, we shall see...”
Sitting in a café near the Bastille in Paris, he is joined by Geoffroy Couteau: together they look back on this CD’s recording, published by Odradek. “We benefited from ideal conditions, remembers Geoffroy Couteau. We were in Italy in Pescara, in the hands of a very competent and dedicated team”. In this musical oasis, a beautiful album was born - fervent, melancholy, sometimes wild and always imbued with a gripping meditative dimension. Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier is exclusively dedicated to the piano, the instrument he practices himself, to which he ‘speaks’ and which speaks to him. “I always compose while thinking of a specific performer and I really don’t see myself writing for an orchestra of fifty people I don’t know. The pieces intended for Geoffroy, for instance, reflect his deep connection to the music of Brahms”.
Resisting dispersal, the temptation to touch everything without taking the time to deepen anything ... both artists share a common philosophy regarding their profession: “Life is too short to disperse and think of a hypothetical career plan that does not fit you”, argues Geoffroy Couteau vigorously. The pianist finds in the music of Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier the freedom he so badly needs, “Rodolphe‘s music has a connection to the imaginary and a sense of narrative, fed by literary references, which indicate without excessive authority a possible direction. Everything is deeply thought out, highly written, but it’s the magic of resonance that makes his music alive”, he analyzes.
For his part, the composer admits his fascination with time’s metamorphoses, depending on whether one is on the side of the composer, the player or the listener. “To think that I can spend hours and hours on a single measure that, perhaps, the listener will hardly notice!” Though very different, all his pieces relate in their own way to a reflection on the essence of time. Bell patterns evoke sounds ricocheting into silence: at the end of almost each piece, the most violent tumults subside into a slow recovery, stellar or more mysterious, as if thinning in ether, purified by the glittering touch of Geoffroy Couteau. A piece that Rodolphe Bruneau-Boulmier has dedicated to him is called Ses ailes déployées (His outstretched wings) (1). We could not have said it better…”