Sylvie Courvoisier

Signs and Epigrams

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Signs and Epigrams, Sylvie Courvoisier's 2007 release on Tzadik, seems to be a wide-ranging compendium of extended keyboard effects, hearkening back to the heyday of the avant-garde. Techniques that were widely used in the 1960s and 1970s -- including plucked, brushed, scraped, and damped strings, along with cluster chords, elbow slams, blurred pedal effects, and harmonics -- make up a large part of Courvoisier's pointillistic and angular language, and the sounds she produces in her gestural compositions and energetic improvisations aren't especially daring or interesting in themselves. What makes Signs and Epigrams compelling for intrepid listeners is the density of Courvoisier's constructions, the audacious ways she exploits her materials, and the utter ferocity of her performances. While she demonstrates a fine ear for isolated pitches or the quiet, delicate interplay of lines, and can play conventionally with great subtlety, she makes the greatest impression in her brutal attacks of the keyboard, strings, and even the piano's case: the rawest sound sources are fair game in her highly varied pieces, and she plays with a concentrated force that makes this album bracing to hear and unforgettable for its violence. However, this clangorous disc may strike others as a catalog of passé gimmicks, and a little irrelevant for its time. Tzadik's reproduction is clear, close up, and loud, so every detail is audible.

blue highlight denotes track pick