Jérôme Langlois — Live au FMPM 2006 + Themes
(ProgQuébec MPM26, 2007, 2CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-10-01
Here we have a brand new full ensemble live recording and a piano solo reissue from 1984 together in the same package, on separate discs no less. Langlois was a multi-instrumentalist (mainly sax and keys) and composer in the earliest edition of Maneige (first album & Les Porches) before their sound became more jazz-influenced. Indeed, if you loved those two albums, then Live au FMPM should push all the right buttons for you – the nine compositions are performed by a seven piece ensemble including piano, violin, two clarinets, flutes, orchestral percussion, bass, and drums, including several other Maneige alums (Paul Picard, Gilles Schetagne). Langlois’ compositions are brilliantly melodic and labyrinthine, offering a full range of emotions arranged in an expanded chamber orchestra setting, informed by elements of classical music, subtle shades of rock, and even slight touches of folk and jazz; this essentially takes the style of music explored on Les Porches a few steps further away from the rock idiom. I’m certain that those lucky ones who were able to witness this live performance will never forget it! I cannot recommend this one highly enough.
Themes is a reissue of Langlois’ piano solo LP from 1984, with a couple bonus tracks (also solo piano) from 1976 appended to the end. While not as immediately engaging as the full ensemble work of the first disc, the well tuned ear will hear much of the same compositional brilliance, spirit and emotion here, even some playful themes that seem to harken back to his days with the pre-Maneige band Lasting Weep. The album seems to gain more power and energy as it goes – perhaps it’s just the time required for the listener to tune in to the one man, one Steinway grand piano concept. Of special note is the second bonus track “Sonate d’Hiver (1st Movement)”, a 12-minute piano fantasy that a listener can easily get lost within, and begs the question: where are the other movements? All taken, this set presents two sides of Langlois’ work and comes highly recommended for all.
Related artist(s): Jérôme Langlois
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