UTMISOL, Jean Jordy

June 2020

Concept records are like collages. Beyond the pieces gathered, it is the overall result that makes it unique… like the wealth of links that the receiver likes to find in its often disparate components. Marc Trautmann’s skillful presentation of this recording offers avenues of relationships, a unifying perspective that justifies the title of the album. But each listener is free to have another reading of this surprising and magnificent arrangement. Everyone will recognize the obvious: Virgil Boutellis-Taft, for this second disc, confirms that he is an immense violinist. He brings together seven pieces by composers from different eras, cultures and climates and makes them vibrate, snicker, meditate and pray with a quivering lyricism. If incantation there is, song and mystery come from the virtuoso and moving playing of the young French soloist who combines warmth and elegance, rigor and commitment, momentum and concentration. From the rare and baroque Tomaso Vitali (a hypnotic and imposing Chaconne with insistent virtuoso digressions) to Shigeru Umebayashi’s film music (the famous and heady Yumeji’s Theme), a whole distant world of affinities and refinements is illuminated, that our compatriot’s subtle violin weaves, like a mysteriously spidery web. It doesn’t matter that the comical skeletons of Saint-Saëns’ Danse macabre clash at its heart, here re-orchestrated and more incisive. They bring a welcome ironic and distanced touch to this learned and picturesque composition. And in this piece, although deliberately out of tune, the instrument manages to disturb. Even if the minor key is dominant in the collected works, the recurrent presence of repetitive rhythms, undoubtedly at the origin of the choice of pages, does not impose uniformity. On the contrary, it is to the modulation of sound climates and cultural backgrounds that the interpreter, an inspired poet, makes us sensitive. The scores and their flawless technical execution take us into sensitive universes with innumerable intimate correspondences, rich in spiritual elevation. Thus the beautiful songs of Max Bruch and Ernest Bloch, Adagio on two Hebrew melodies here transposed from cello to violin for the first, or the improvisation, one of the images of Hasidic life for the second, offer the echoing voices of meditation and prayer, exalted in its tender effusion by a modest and moving violin. Similarly, Tchaikovsky’s Sérénade mélancolique and Chausson’s Poème for violin and orchestra, the album’s matrix and beacon, call and respond to each other, in a disturbing play of infinite reflections, like that of Turgenev. The soul of the Russian composer seems to melt into that of the French musician, who, enlightened, in return is absorbed by it. And it is this spiritual and mysterious miracle that the vibrant playing of the interpreter and the bewitching charm of the chosen pages have created. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra imposes its noble power, without mentioning the name of the one who leads its forces. It fervently accompanies Virgil Boutellis-Taft to whom we can safely predict a radiant future, so obvious are his technical qualities and the height of his artistic inspiration.

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