The work of Jean-Michel Blais has taken a turn. His most recent compositions are no longer just piano solos, but many orchestral works. In concert at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, where he presented the album Aubades “at home for the first time” on Saturday, the whole complexity and great sensitivity of his pieces came out in the most beautiful way.
Posted yesterday at 8am
The Quebec composer and pianist initially sat alone at the piano. The first piece he played allowed all the space to be left to the melody dictated by the keys, driven by his delicate fingering. It also allowed the conductor Julien Proulx and the 11 musicians who had come to accompany Jean-Michel Blais to be seated around him.
As he smoothly transitioned into his second piece, the strings were able to merge with their voices. Later brass and woodwind.
“I don’t know if we’re full, but we’re full!” For chamber music! ‘ he exclaimed as he addressed the public for the first time that evening, before expressing all his excitement at being in attendance.
Jean-Michel Blais explained at the start of the show that he’s the type to talk between his songs. He won’t let the evening go by without telling the stories that complement the stories his music is already telling. The affable musician makes jokes, leads light-footedly through this classical evening. The audience is enthusiastic about his long monologues, you can tell from his reactions.
So he introduced whispers, the first piece to be revealed for the composer at the dawn of this new musical era. A marvel of composition, breathtaking in its beauty. We’ll be out of breath a few times after that.
Later, he takes the time to explain the genesis of the project Aubades. The pandemic, the “mini-depression”, the desire to learn to compose for other instruments, the baroque period that inspired him and aubades, that “morning music”.
Happened (inspired by Debussy’s dance and composition), absinthe (inspired by the moment we see the morning sun rise after an evening in which we would have consumed absinthe), nina (inspired by the Aubade of life, early childhood), If you build it, they will come (inspired by Kevin Costner and Noé)… All the tracks from the album are on it (anecdotes about their compositions as a bonus), to our great delight. All the pieces were performed by the pianist and composer with a precision that was by no means lacking in strong emotion.
Around the music, some light effects that remind us of the sunrise, some background noise that accompanies the soft melodies and some images on a panel that projects luminous shapes.
The composer has occasionally returned to dig into his oldest repertoire, letting his accompanists leave the stage long enough to give the piano all the space.
Jean-Michel Blais wanted to evoke the sunrise, the hope, the beauty of rebirth with this project that pushed his work further than ever. In concert, the pianist and his orchestra make the album Aubades a celebration. The show is a lucky charm, even if melancholy sometimes catches up with some tracks. But the light that most of his pieces project spilled into Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on Saturday. It was divine.
Jean-Michel Blais will present Aubades touring Quebec and Canada in the coming months.