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CARNET DE VOYAGE

London, 2019 

Dominique Charpentier has participated in shaping the sound of (indie) contemporary classical music for half a decade now. His combination of American minimalism and French elegance has made him very successful. In 2018, with two EPs, two albums and a few soundtracks—including the acclaimed The Cakemaker—Charpentier releases Carnet de voyage, on the Italian label Memory Recordings. A conceptual album, the composer defines it as an imaginary diary of travels that have never happened and/or are yet to happen. It is an opportunity for Charpentier to look back as well as look forward. All nine piano pieces have been composed in one hour or less, preserving the spontaneous creative process of the composer.

  

There is something that makes Charpentier’s music instantly recognisable, as in Secret Place. Whether it is with the story telling, the diversity in musical ideas, the impeccable structure of the pieces or the attention to detail. Of course, there are many reference to the sea—Raz Blanchard—, which bring up memories of Yann Tiersen’s solo albums and signature triple time. Charpentier’s fondness for improvised music is reflected throughout the album—and through its compositional process—and more specifically in two pieces; Le Bord de la mer and La Valse oubliée, which show how Charpentier flawlessly improvises gentle melodies and delicate piano patterns. Skansen—for the open-air museum and zoo in Stockholm—is a piece of music that seems to balance between sadness and joy, and One Minute and a Half of Peace—which might as well have been given to the album as a title, Twenty Five Minutes of Peace—is a daringly simple and pleasant piece

Then, Tea time music… What a great idea! Tea Time (Green Tea) reflects the floral attributes and delicacy of the drink, while Tea time (Black Tea) is slightly somber and illustrates the density of flavours of the beverage. Finally, Berceuse d’été a gentle lullaby-like piece brings pictures of the French countryside summers, and its warm breeze and smell of grass.

 

Carnet de voyage is another delightful release from Charpentier; it is full of charming melodies and enchanting piano pieces. The French composer is a true story teller and makes us travel through each one of his projects—and his latest is no exception. Moreover, it is worth noticing the production of Carnet de voyage; done by the composer and his brand new recording studio Modern Piano Recordings. Whether is through pre-production—with a very interesting use of the microphones that bring an instant intimacy to his recordings—or post-production—with minimalistic sonic choices that reflect the composer’s spontaneous creative process. One last mention, the photographies of Laurent Pistiaux that Charpentier has tastefully chosen to illustrate his travel diary.