Published Jul 17, 2018It's been almost three years since Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch's last recording. Her debut, Like Water Through the Sand, was considered a major success; she combined piano, string quartet and electronics, occupying that creative space between new classical and avant-garde electronic music.
Époques is a progressive step in the same direction. The London-based French composer is quickly establishing herself as an important new voice in contemporary music. Her compositions for piano, viola, cello and electronics combine tender solo performances with rousing arrangements. This new work has been described as darker than her previous release — that may simply be a result of a more solitary approach to its composition.
Levienaise-Farrouch left her London home for a retreat in Aldeburgh, Suffolk at the invitation of the Britten-Pears Foundation. With the city behind her, she was free to connect with more natural surroundings and focus on expressing that comforting sense of isolation in the new work.
Époques is about "the constant, deeper changes that we go through as human beings, on a societal, natural and personal level," she says, "which even though they can be devastatingly painful, we need to accept and embrace."
There is plenty here to put your arms around. Her electronics include samples of a variety of acoustic instruments, including clarinet and bass guitar. While clearly not a symphonic work, these additional elements provide her a sizeable palette to employ. She spent nine deliberate months recording after the retreat.
While in Aldeburgh, she spent a good deal of time on a standup Church Walk piano. She became so attached to it that she recorded every note with Logic Pro's ESX24 sample mapping facility so that she could play the instrument virtually at home. Its presence throughout the album is a nice tribute to Britten-Pears.
Her exacting style produces a fully formed, gorgeously crafted result. Levienaise-Farrouch is one to watch. (Fat Cat)