Reminiscence is French composer Dominique Charpentier’s latest album. An illustration of spontaneous compositions and simpleness, the project attempts to describe Charpentier’s emotions, stories, feelings and people associated with different places and cities. Reminiscence follows a line of successful projects from the composer, including Passages, L’Attente or the soundtrack to Ofir Raul Graizer’s The Cakemaker. The wonderful artwork is signed by German artist Anna Salzmann,
From the first notes of Barfleur, Reminiscence could not sound more French. The dancing waltz-like quality of the piece and its delicate melody takes you immediately on Charpentier’s little urban tour. The presence of the Swedish multi-instrumentalist and artist Klangriket—another one of my favourite current composers—could not be a better fit to the album. Berlin, the result of their collaboration, is a vertigo piece that blends Charpentier’s elegant piano playing and Klangriket’s taste for musical explorations. Buda and Pest, which would naturally tend to go together, are actually two very distinct pieces. Buda, a light ballade in ternary time goes through musical episodes; While Pest seems to be a wink to Beethoven’s Moonlight—referencing its piano accompaniment—and is one of the pieces from Reminiscence I like the most. Miette seems like a very nostalgic piece, that suggests a return to childhood memories. Similarly, the melancholic Brugge—despite its title—brings us back to the Montmartre of the late 19th century and is a right example of how Charpentier applies musical diversity in a very short length. Paris is a somehow dramatic piece that recalls some of the night rambling and city balladeering. Like a lot of the pieces in Reminiscence, it alternates between patterned and airy music. Exploring the concept of musical episodes again, Pirouette is a hunting piece that shines in melodicity and musical contrast. The closing piece of Reminiscence, Rue des Acacias is the most discreet of all the pieces, and gives an elegant full stop to the album.
A self-released project—Charpentier has worked on every aspects of the album, from composing to producing—Reminiscence has been one of my favourite album to review this year. It is a blend of French elegance, well-measured simplicity, musical surprises and collaborations—such as the presence of Klangriket—and evocative images. Some reviews, such as this one, are written naturally, in a continuous flow of words. Well done Dominique!