L' Hexacorde

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An album much more serious (as in so-called "serious music") than the usual music released on the label Monsieur Fauteux m'entendez-vous? (home of the Fanfare Pourpour and Rouge Ciel, among others), this eponymous debut offers a selection of pieces from the contemporary classical repertoire and premiere works, interpreted by the young guitar ensemble L'Hexacorde. Consisting of five acoustic guitarists (two of them occasionally doubling on electric guitar and charango) and one acoustic bassist, L'Hexacorde aims at expanding the repertoire of contemporary guitar ensembles. The album contains two new pieces: one by Martin Levasseur ("Empreintes Magnolia") and another by Francis Marcoux, the ensemble's leader and main arranger. The latter, entitled "Obstination," exerts a certain fascination, especially since its influences are not readily identifiable. But the main attractions of the album reside in the group's highly original arrangements of pieces that were not written for this instrumentation -- not even close. Opening the album are three short pieces taken from Mauricio Kagel's "Rrrrrrr..." Originally scored for organ, they lightly engage the listener, gently pulling him or her into the soundworld of the guitar. This introduction, of sorts, serves well to appreciate the complexity of Claude Vivier's "Pulau Dewata" (one of his Balinese pieces) up next. The richness of the composer's writing has not been completely carried into the new arrangement, but L'Hexacorde's rendition is thoughtful, graceful, and filled with enough surprises and personal input to compensate for the narrower sound palette. But the most daring arrangements are found in the three John Cage pieces concluding the set. Guitars are prepared in the two excerpts from "Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano," delightfully rendering Cage's ideas, while "In a Landscape" conveys a sense of peace and resonance with the universe. It's all over too soon, but it makes a very potent debut.

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