Pays : United States Label : Rubicon Genres et styles : Modern Classical Année : 2024

Andrew Armstrong – In Blue

· par Frédéric Cardin

On In Blue, the pianist Andrew Armstrong invites us to consider the ‘blue note’ not as an exclusively harmonic concept, or one reserved for jazz alone, but rather as a reference to more or less fleeting impressions, tinged with melancholy, nostalgia or sometimes even restlessness. So it is that his very fine programme, recorded on the Rubicon label, invites us on a journey through the personal evocations of composers such as Aaron Jay Kernis, George Gershwin, Julia Perry, William Grant Still and himself.

Kernis’s Before Sleep and Dreams is a wonderful discovery. In a language far more sophisticated and enchanting than that of contemporary neoclassicism (Einaudi, Streliski, etc.), Kernis evokes the magical hour when small children are tucked in, a time of great intimacy that forges bonds that can last a lifetime. A precious and indispensable moment between parent and child. In five movements, Before Sleep and Dreams weaves a dreamlike tapestry of tenderness, caring smiles and melancholy. All parents worthy of the name will fully share the feelings expressed in this beautiful suite. 

She Fell for a Flyfisher, a composition by Armstrong, interweaves suggestive passages from an invented scenario (that of a fisherman on the Alaskan coast who goes back to his beloved after hard work) with some impressionistic drawings of emotional interiority. Nothing new under the sun, but it’s still very enjoyable.

Julia Perry’s miniature Prelude, which lasts less than two minutes, is rooted in the American South, while William Grant Still’s Three Visions (a composer who is still far too little played) manages to create a very Debussian canvas of half-light. Summerland and Radiant Pinnacle are particularly memorable.

Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Rhapsody in Blue (February 12 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of the piece) were almost indispensable for this type of programme. Armstrong has effectively mastered the codes and inflections, between jazz, romanticism and impressionism.

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