Arnaud FILLION is a composer based in France who Divide & Conquer has reviewed multiple times in the past. He is back with a new release entitled Concerto pour guitare et orchestre - Un ange parmi les soupirs. I was reading about how these compositions manifested. “The frame of this concerto for guitar and orchestra was sketched during a stay in Southeast Asia, then orchestrated on my return to France in 2016. In a very personal aesthetic, incorporating elements from diverse genres (classical , contemporary, world & film music ...), each movement has been elaborated as a small journey in itself, inviting the listener to escape with an overflowing inspiration accessible to everyone.“ The compositions were performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra with the soloists Johan Smith (guitar) and Alain Arias (violin).
The music is undeniably dynamic, thematic and epic in scope. I would say that journey is the right word to use for these classical compositions for a number of reasons but mainly because of the structure itself. These aren’t pop songs that are built around verse/chorus/verse type structures. They take you to different locations and display different tones, textures and colors.
FILLION opens with “Concerto pour guitare et orchestre: I. Espiègle” and first off there is so much happening in this song that I suggest listening multiple times. The music and in particular the woodwinds sound playful. I kept thinking this music would work great in an animated film. As the music progresses I found it to be swift, free and often quite hopeful. That being said moods can change quickly. The classical guitar is fantastic when it arrives. Once it does it really becomes the focal point but the support from the other instrumentation is incredible. My favorite moment came around the seven-minute mark which contains a crescendo that explodes into a triumphant sound.
The mood changes on “Concerto pour guitare et orchestre: II. Air with the soloists Johan Smith (guitar) and Alain Arias (violin).” It’s a little more pensive, melancholy and nostalgia. I was picturing Autumn colors on this song. The song however really does dance between instruments. I loved how the instruments bounced each other repeating certain melodies and then coming together briefly only to separate.
I want to say that the next song “Concerto pour guitare et orchestre: III. Hypnotika” felt more grand, especially in the beginning. The accents are sudden and on the cusp of jarring. As the song progresses it becomes more dynamic with instrumentation going up and down a staircase of sound and emotion.
Last up is “Un ange parmi les soupirs” and this puts the focus on the violin. There is an impressive landscape of nuance and a beautiful array of instrumentation.
One of the things that attract me to these compositions is how quickly emotion can change. It’s not something you hear very often in pop/rock music. In fact you never hear it in the realm of pop. It’s usually a happy or a sad song and the emotion doesn't change much. That’s not the case here and it is really on a completely different level.
Within one single minute of music you can go through an array of emotion. Some of that can be lost if you aren’t paying attention. Do yourself a favor with these songs. Don’t listen while working out, Don’t listen while doing work and don’t listen while eating. Just listen. It’s a skill we are losing and this is an album that’s worth retraining a skill that a lot of us have lost.
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