Friday, November 16, 2012

CCC 051 - Michel Perrault

This installment of the Consonant Classical Challenge features Canadian composer Michel Perrault. Perrault is inspired in part by Canadian folk songs. These tunes have a slightly different character than American folk songs, which makes his music sound akin to -- but not like -- those of American composers also drawing on folk traditions.

"Jeux de quatres" (Four Games) illustrates this. The work is a concertino for harp and orchestra, and uses the solo instrument to good advantage. The slow movements have a spare, open sound that remind me of Copland, without Copland's "American" quality. Fast sections hop about in a Stravinsky-like fashion, without Stravinsky dissonance.

Perrault's "Meditation elegiague" for violin and piano is a short work that shows off his melodic gifts. The open parallel motion of the piano's chords remind me of Debussy. The melody, however, has some quite interesting and unexpected turns in it that give the work its expressive quality.

Perrault (like Copland) has also written for film, and, like Copland, his scores seem to work equally well in a concert setting. Listen carefully to this chamber piece "Carry & Roll." Fine writing, indeed!

Michel Perrault is well-known in Canada, and virtually unknown south of the border. And that's a shame, because he has an original voice, and one that should appeal to a great many concert-goers. Unfortunately, there seem to be no recordings of his music readily available for me to recommend. And that's another shame.

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