ABOUT THE ALBUM
Musicians : Sebastien Authemayou (bandonion), Marielle Gars (piano)
Following on from Balada para un Loco - tribute to Astor Piazzolla and Bach & Piazzolla - Tête-à-tête, both of which won the prestigious title “Choix de France Musique”, Duo Intermezzo is proud to present their latest recording project, Invitación (due for release in 2017 by Klarthe Records / Harmonia Mundi). This bright and multi-coloured musical fresco interweaves the different musical threads of Latin America to create a vibrant musical rainbow.
Latino styles, bound together by their shared history, offer listeners a rich and unique musical experience.
With Invitación, Marielle Gars and Sébastien Authemayou present a flamboyant vision of Latino culture, featuring a mix of iconic key works and lesser-known wonders.
The recording features music from four countries and ten composers, selected by Duo Intermezzo :
- Hermeto Pascoal, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Cesar Camargo Mariano, flying the flag for Brazil ;
- Manuel Ponce, representing Mexico ;
- Ignacio Cervantes and Ernesto Lecuona for Cuba ;
- Osvaldo Tarantino, Saùl Cosentino and Astor Piazzolla for Argentina.
Drawn from a bubbling Afro-European musical melting pot, these pieces are expressions of a language which transcends geographical borders. They combine a variety of styles (from bossa nova to tango, choro, baião and Cuban dance forms), in which improvisation has an important part to play. Listeners are taken on an enticing musical journey, from the sunshine of Cuba to the beaches of Mexico, from the slums of Buenos Aires to the side-streets of Havana.
The selected works are rhythmic with swaying melodies. Even in pieces with a slower tempo, packed with rich emotions, melancholy and a meditative feel, the South American sun is still very much present, calling us to bask in the free-and-easy Latino way of life.
In these troubled and uncertain times, Invitación stands out as a resounding ode to joy, peace and friendship.
One to listen to again and again !
Arrangements / transcriptions : Duo Intermezzo
Photos credits : Sébastien Luig, Stephan Karg et Jean-Baptiste Millot
Logo duo intermezzo : Elodie Barreau
English translation : Pauline Collus
Label manager : Julien Chabod (+33 670 16 22 48)
Recorded at Studio Oreilles Délicates, Sonnay (38), France, 16th-19th February 2017.
Capture, mixing and mastering : Frédéric Finand
2017 - KLARTHE RECORDS - www.klarthe.com
Distribution : PIAS / Harmonia Mundi
With Invitación, you expand a new time again your duo's repertoire. The program you have concocted is like a prism of the Latin soul. Why this region of the world is it so exciting for you ?
Sébastien Authemayou : We draw much of our musical inspiration from South America ; the colours, harmonies and rhythms of Latino music are perfectly suited to our two instruments. There is a vast repertoire to draw on, one which is particularly rich for the bandoneon, opening new perspectives of sound and timbre.
What are the elements that have guided your choices to develop this new program ?
Marielle Gars : Several elements came into play in choosing works for this disc. We discovered César Camargo Mariano’s Cristal at a concert given by Yo Yo Ma as part of the Easter Festival in Aix en Provence in 2014 (the work is also included on his album Obligado Brazil, a 2003 Grammy Award winner). The idea of arranging Hermeto Pascoal’s Bêbe had already occurred to us at an earlier date, and we had also made the decision to record something by Saùl Cosentino, with whom we enjoy a regular correspondence. Cosentino has been particularly supportive of our interpretations of the works of Piazzolla and was keen to work with us on some of his own pieces.
Our next thought was for the legendary Jobim, one of our musical icons. From thence, the music of Villa-Lobos, Lecuona, Cervantes and Ponce came to mind in a form of logical progression. Finally, we felt that our disc had to include something by Astor Piazzolla, reflecting our devotion to the composer. The pieces selected are particularly characteristic and representative of his style and musical thought, lyricism and freedom: Café 1930 and Biyuya.
How do you work ?
Sébastien Authemayou : My work and arrangements are based on original manuscripts, but also on a range of audio recordings, videos of concerts, biographies and other background reading. For me, the arrangement process begins at the piano, where I look for harmonies and define the general structure of the piece. Next, I write out a “draft” version to test with Marielle, before creating a final, corrected version. I enjoy the arrangement process, which I see as a construction game, maybe because it reminds me of something I spent hours of my childhood doing!
The creation of a new interpretation or an innovative vision of a work, whilst remaining faithful to the composer’s original intentions, is a fascinating process. Marielle considers and comments on my proposals, making objective and highly valuable remarks. Her opinions, based on extensive musical knowledge and expertise, are worth their weight in gold, helping me to progress further in my work. Her role in the duo is much more than that of a performer.
Each of you bring your skills and your sensitivity ...
Sébastien Authemayou : Much of my own studies focused on improvisation, whilst Marielle has a strong classical background, and has worked tirelessly on our programmes. The worlds of Latino and jazz music are not so different from those of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert! Marielle’s classical training and impeccable technique form the basis for a great freedom of interpretation, creating a highly realistic and personal vision of the Latin soul.
What exactly makes you both so close to these musics ?
Sébastien Authemayou : We are passionate about the harmonies, melodies and the deep sense of freedom which emanates from this music, which swings from rhythmic dance elements to a form of meditative introspection, from darkness into light. Marielle has devoted years to studying composers such as Granados, Mompou, Ginastera, Guastavino, and Debussy, who drew much of his inspiration from Spain. Building on this classical background, we had to add an element of Latin “swing” because Latin music and French popular music have nothing in common, the latter being weaker in harmonic and compositional complexity. Nevertheless, French popular and folk music remains, first and foremost, associated with dance and with cultural heritage. Thankfully, certain regions have maintained solid local musical traditions; examples include Corsican polyphony, Basque songs, Breton music and Auvergnat or Provençal folk traditions.
Let's talk about your musical inspirations: which ones have particularly influenced you during the development of this project ?
Sébastien Authemayou : The musical inspirations for this project are extremely varied. We owe a great debt to Bebo Valdès, Chucho Valdès, Rubén González, Company Segundo and Buena Vista Social Club, but also to Latino jazz and Brazilian music, as interpreted by Michel Camilo, Tomatito, Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D'Rivera, Al di Meola, the Assad brothers and others, alongside Joao Gilberto, Gal Costa, Baden Powell and Romero Lubambo. As a compulsive buyer of records from an early age, I have spent much of my life listening to music of all different forms: jazz, world music, Latino beats, classical music and more. This musical background has not only provided me with the opportunity to discover new repertoires, but also forms the foundation for my own arrangements and interpretations.
Listening to Invitación, we feel a musical eclecticism more marked than on your previous albums. Is it a deliberate choice and why ?
Marielle Gars : We wanted our new artistic project to be truly broad in its scope, something for both jazz and classical fans, Latino and tango enthusiasts. This idea was central to the work of Piazzolla, and gives his music its special capacity to bring people together.
Whilst Piazzolla, Jobim, Villa-Lobos and Pascoal are relatively well-known, the works of Ponce, Lecuona, Cosentino, Camargo Mariano and Cervantes have reached a far more limited audience in Europe. However, we feel that Latino music has a lot to offer to European listeners, taking us on a musical journey far from all of the social, cultural and political difficulties of day-to-day life.
With the exception of Piazzolla's and some of Cosentino's works, it's the first time that all of musics recorded on this disc are arranged for the bandoneon. Why do you want to bring this instrument towards new sounds ?
Sébastien Authemayou : For me, whilst the bandoneon remains intimately connected to Argentinian urban and popular music, it also has the capacity to explore new musical horizons – something which is of prime importance in the development of the instrument and its repertoire. As Piazzolla stated, “music which does not evolve is condemned to slowly die” –and I consider he could just as well have been talking about the bandoneon, that is why I decided to take action in the evolution of the bandoneon. Evidently, these arrangements have been made with the permission and support of the original composers.
How would you characterize the Latin music ?
Marielle Gars : Latino music is very rich, packed with rhythms and melodies which express a varied emotional palette, drawn from the incredible socio-cultural melting pot which is South America. Our aim is to capture this spirit. The music contains an element which is highly seductive to European listeners, and body language is essential to understanding its interpretation. Somewhat paradoxically, the distance between our duo and these composers from a cultural and geographical perspective is huge, but we feel very close to them in terms of musical language. Perhaps our feeling of intimacy with the Latin soul and spirit comes from the years we have spent listening to and playing Piazzolla…
What would you like we retain about this album ?
Sébastien Authemayou : Finally, I find the creation of new arrangements, particularly for our two instruments, highly rewarding. It took me the best part of a year to arrange the programme featured on this album. I hope that we have lived up to our aims in creating a more open vision of music, breaking down the borders of the conventionally “classical” model to explore the riches of jazz, improvisation and world music.
María Susana AZZI is a cultural anthropologist. She is also, among others, the author of Astor Piazzolla - his life and his music (foreword by Yo-Yo Ma), a book published by El Ateneo Buenos Aires in 2012 and updated in 2018. Digital reissue in English version at Astor & Lenox (February 2017).