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Sylvie Courvoisier & Cory Smythe

The Rite of Spring - Spectre d'un songe

Review by Gary Hill

This is an album made up of music played by two pianists. Now, you might think, "that doesn't sound like progressive rock to me." It's not. It is, however, art music. It's creative, crazed, freeform and inventive. This is made up of three epic length pieces. The music defies most description, making track reviews a little absurd, but since that's how we do reviews at Music Street Journal, I've endeavored to do them as well as I can. Suffice it to say that this is unusual music that often feels dangerous.

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Track by Track Review
Le sacre du printemps Pt. 1, The Adoration of the Earth
At more than 15-and-a-half minutes of music, this is the shortest track here. Mellower piano gets this thing going. It moves into unique and freeform sounding classical art music zones fairly quickly. It gets rather crazed at times as this builds outward. It has dropped back sections, but also turns seriously dramatic with a sound that feels almost dangerous at times. Hints of world music show up here and there. Classical music and art really merge on this thing. There is a particularly crazed and noisy section around the three-quarter mark of the song. After a drop back near the end, this comes back up into some driving and rather chaotic territory. They continue exploring right until the end.
Le sacre du printemps Pt. 2, The Sacrifice
Jabs of piano bring this in with a rather ominous vibe. The track builds outward feeling a bit like soundtrack music. It drops to mellower stuff mid-track. This gets pretty crazed at times. Yet, there are also mellower parts. There is plenty of world music built into this, too at times. Around the three-quarters mark this turns into something that makes me thin of a soundtrack to a science-fiction horror movie. It gets mellower and less threatening beyond that. It eventually works its way back out to more dramatic art music turned classical stuff that creates the rest of the piece. At over 18-and-a-half-minutes of music, this is still not the longest cut here.
Spectre d’un songe
The epic of the set, this is nearly half-an-hour long. This starts very sedate and builds up slowly and gradually. The track works through in much the way you expect, which means unexpected, but hard to describe and categorize ways. There are lots of changes, turns, strange corners and dramatic concepts. There is this cool crazed and chaotic section near the halfway mark that seems positively insane. It drops way down beyond that for a seriously quiet, but still dramatic movement. They build it back out into powerhouse jamming, but again turn it mellow beyond that. It keeps evolving with different explorations and contrasting movements emerging. This is quite the chaotic and crazy ride.

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