The year 2023 marks the 25th anniversary of Ensemble SuperMusique, whose mission is to dedicate itself to the performance of new music, as well as to written and improvised music and graphic scores. The ensemble is well-known on the Montreal music scene for its great talent, dynamism and consistently high-quality performances. Last night’s concert, co-broadcast with Le Vivier, proved once again that Ensemble SuperMusique always stands out in its field.
The two works on the evening’s program were premieres, conducted by the composers themselves. The first piece, Versa es in luctum cithara mea… by Vergil Sharkyaʹ brought together several elements in a single work: prepared and acoustic instruments, amplification and sound effects. As a prelude to the piece, the composer rolls metal balls over guitar strings, and strikes the strings with light brushes or a piano hammer. So many unusual playing methods create a superb sound effect, a little ethereal and almost otherworldly. This first section transports us into a world of uncluttered sonorities, in which the focus is on the different ways of producing sound.
The second section mobilizes the entire SuperMusique ensemble, giving way to some fine moments of collective improvisation, on a melodic base carried by the low instruments and percussion. Once again, we pass through several tableaux, each depicting different moods: rhythm and bass, meditation (where we see three bass flutes at work!) and a register that could almost be described as science fiction.
The second work on the program, Monnomest (“my name is”), by Joane Hétu, is a long work in three movements and several tableaux dedicated to Rémy Bélanger of Beauport, creator and cellist, who was attacked in October 2020 in Quebec City in what is now known as the “sabre attack”. The work is built around a theme that musically spells out the name of Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, a theme that metamorphoses over the course of the work but is always recognizable in the background.
As well as involving instrumental improvisation, of course, 7 performers also lend their voices to the work. This adds an extra texture to an already richly composed piece. Each instrument has the opportunity to take center stage, allowing the ensemble’s talent to shine through. Monnomest is a work guided by magnificent melodic moments and moments of introspection.
This concert was carefully constructed, with a scenography that invited total and complete listening. The two pieces blended perfectly and were a seamless continuation of each other. The moments of improvisation were breathtaking, and we admired the cohesion of the ensemble.