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 Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, where he presented the album aubades “for the first time at home” on Saturday, all the complexity and great sensitivity of his pieces came to life in the most beautiful way.
Posted at 8:00 a.m.
The Quebec composer and pianist first sat down alone at the piano. The first piece he played made it possible to leave all the space to the melody dictated by the keys, moved by his delicate fingering. It also allowed the conductor, Julien Proulx, and the 11 musicians who came to accompany Jean-Michel Blais to take place all around him.
So when, in a fluid transition, he moved on to his second piece, the strings were able to join their voices. Later, brass and woodwinds.
“I don’t know if we’re full, but we’re squealing full!” For chamber music! “, he exclaimed when he addressed the public for the first time of the evening, before saying all his excitement to be present.
Jean-Michel Blais explained it at the start of the show, he is the type to talk between his songs. He won’t let the evening go by without telling the stories that complement those his music already tells. The affable musician makes jokes, lightly leads this evening of classical music. The public is delighted with his long monologues, you can tell by his reactions.
He therefore introduced Whispers, the first piece that was unveiled at the start of this new musical era for the composer. A marvel of composition, breathtaking in its beauty. We will be breathless a few times afterwards.
He later 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 era that inspired him and aubades, these “morning music”.
Passepied (inspired by Debussy’s dance and composition), Absinthe (inspired by the moment when we see the morning sun rise after an evening where 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 on the album are on it (anecdotes about their compositions as a bonus), for our greatest pleasure. All the pieces were delivered by the pianist and composer with a precision where a powerful emotion was far from absent.
Around the music, a few sets of lights to remind us of the sunrise, some background noises to accompany the soft melodies and some images, on a panel projecting luminous shapes.
On occasion, the composer returned to dig into his oldest repertoire, letting his accompanists leave the stage long enough to give the piano back its place.
Jean-Michel Blais wished to evoke the dawn, the hope, the beauty of the rebirth with this project which pushed his work further than ever before. In concert, the pianist and his orchestra make the album aubades a celebration. The show is a bearer of bliss, even if sometimes melancholy caught up with us listening to certain pieces. But the light that most of his pieces project invaded Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier on Saturday. It was divine.
Jean-Michel Blais will present aubades on tour in Quebec and Canada in the coming months.