Frédéric Blondy

Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi

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"The Exaltation of Two Worlds": it makes a lot of promises for a title, starting with an encounter between wildly different elements and a certain amount of excitement. Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi actually works on a much subtler level and its rewards are more subdued. Pianist Frédéric Blondy is best known in free improvisation circles for his tenure in the quintet Hubbub. His mate for this two-day studio session is Lê Quan Ninh, one of the avant-garde's most thoroughly surprising percussionists. His art generally consists of deliberately choosing minimal physical means (for instance, one floor tom and cymbal) and, through the use of unorthodox techniques, squeezing out of them a maximum of sounds and mental images. His resourcefulness and creativity are endless, and this recording proves it once more. Blondy's approach to the piano is also very percussive and encompasses keys, strings, and wooden frame. But he can also play gracious spontaneous melodies ("Exaltatio Utriusque Mundi"). Despite the appearance of many unusual sounds, it remains easy to separate the improvisers' individual inputs. In fact, in a couple of these six pieces, they remain camped in their positions, developing parallel but separate vocabularies. But things gel marvelously in "La Verticale Reposée" and the closing "Vers la Septième Solitude" ("Toward the Seventh Solitude," a beautiful title), the latter Feldman-esque in its nakedness.

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