Pianist Claude Marc Bourget put his musical career on pause for a few years to become a published writer back in the 1980s. He returns to the music scene with this solo album that blends both jazz and classical motifs into an impressionist soundscape. The album was recorded in the Françoys-Bernier concert hall of Domain Forget in Charlevoix, Canada, which makes the album into more than just an interesting piece. None of the effects from the hall are lost on the listener. The intensity of the music and the quality of the recording pull you into the music, until you feel almost as if you are sitting alone in a concert hall.
Bourget’s playing is not especially lyrical at first listen, but about the second or third time around, you begin to make sense of the long phrases and the subtle themes that continue through each section of the album. What is remarkable is how energetic his playing is. There is rarely a lull in the intensity; even the silences hold the listener’s attention. His playing is dense with harmonies at times, while at others it is reduced to a simplistic melodic strain. It is, as the title implies, cyclic, constantly building up and breaking down in complexity and volume. He drives these cycles with changes in rhythm and harmony, gradually moving away from his original theme, only to return to it later on. The themes sound more classical for the most part, but there are moments when he uses blues motifs. It’s hard to guess where the music will go next and how it will change, but in some ways the freedom and unpredictability of the music shows just how much thought went into each note.
No matter whether you are solo piano aficionado or not, Bourget’s sound is enthralling. His technical and creative facilities alone are admirable, but the sheer intensity of his music is enough to draw the most callused listener in. When so much music follows set forms of conformity and repeating phrases, it’s easy to get lost in the long, full themes that seem to never end. I am not traditionally a fan of solo piano works, and I probably won’t go out and buy any right away, but this album will definitely have a spot in my listening library.