Le Vivier and Quasar | Selective Fluidity

by Alexis Ruel

On Tuesday evening, the Quasar Quartet offered a tribute to Claude Vivier. Presented in October in Paris, Montrealers had the chance to see this highly interesting and, above all, highly creative concert. Le Vivier is certainly proud to organize this tribute to a composer who inspired many, and not just the name of the organization.

Quasar brings together saxophone virtuosos in a tight and impressive core, both technically and expressively. Their instrumental explorations are fascinating, and the ease with which they make their instruments snap, vibrate, jump and scream is an art in itself. Of all the atypical and often incongruous sounds heard last night, few seem to have really given the musicians a hard time.

The staging was unique and meticulous. A central stage, surrounded by a transparent curtain, occupied the Espace Orange. Sometimes in front of this stage, sometimes on it, the lighting and the floating aspect of the layout helped to create an intimate atmosphere. It was a pity that the lighting for much of the concert was so low, making it impossible to follow the (very beautiful) program, which would have been nice to consult to situate the works played in succession. Fortunately, several composers took the time to introduce the works played, and we immediately felt more engaged.

The works on the program were interesting but sometimes uneven. Claude Vivier’s opening piece, Pulau Dewata, offered a different perspective on Vivier’s music, with its almost minimalist aesthetic of repeated, evolving motifs. This is one of the few similarities with the other works on the program. The second piece, L’instant liquide by Florence M. Tremblay, was fluid and highly enjoyable. It explored the atypical registers of the instruments to excellent effect, and we felt carried away by the waves of the score. The other works by Gilles Tremblay, Paul Méfano and Émilie Girard-Charest all seem to have adopted this perspective, which had the effect of exacerbating the aggressiveness of certain sonorities. Some of the techniques used went well with the mood and narrative of the works, but by the end, for most of them, the novelty wore off. It felt like a workshop on different possibilities, rather than a uniform work.

The final piece, Cinq pièces liquides by Yassen Vodenitcharov, breaks out of this mould, and the effect is pleasing. At once an evocation of painting and a tribute to various departed artists, we are surprised by the added sound effects and a pleasant fluidity that we had lost since Florence M. Tremblay’s piece.

The works were each and every one of them bursting with creativity. The composers dared, and we greatly appreciate it. We’d like to have more, but probably in a different arrangement. In any case, the Quasar Quartet’s virtuoso performance paid tribute not only to Claude Vivier but to the composers present too.

For more details on the Vivier season and upcoming concerts, click HERE.

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