“A quiet promenade from dawn to dusk in an ideal world where fragrances, colours and sounds correspond ... Seventeen intimate impressions, many of them improvised, in different hues, calm or impetuous, melodious or abstract.”
- François Couturier
An autonomous and captivating album in its own right, “Un jour si blanc” was conceived by François Couturier as a second volume in an ideational trilogy, and an extension of the earlier “Nostalghia: Song for Tarkovsky” (ECM 1979).. The poetic approach of that disc – evident in the playing itself and in the referential and allusive conception – finds an echo in this solo piano album.
It’s the French pianist’s first solo album, and a richly creative contribution also to the unaccompanied piano genre established at ECM long ago with landmark recordings of Chick Corea, Paul Bley, and Keith Jarrett. “Un jour si blanc” was produced by Manfred Eicher at the Auditorio Radio Svizzera, Lugano – already a noted space for ECM recordings, including Stefano Bollani’s “Piano Solo” and Marilyn Crispell’s solo “Vignettes”.
The new album’s starting point was a poem by Andrei Tarkovsky’s father, Arseni Tarkovsky, which gives the disk its title. After this, the recording opens up associatively, making improvisational interconnections. “I wanted to pay tribute to some great artists I particularly like”, says Couturier. These include Johann Sebastian Bach, Arthur Rimbaud, the painters of the Blaue Reiter group, Claude Debussy, Franz Schubert, Toru Takemitsu, Joan Miro and more. “Lune de miel”, meanwhile, quotes liberally from “I Fall In Love Too Easily”. But if standard jazz is a component of this disc it is filtered through the focus of a player steeped in the European tradition, a player who can readily access the history of classical music and contemporary composition, and a sense for structure is paramount, even when Couturier is in full improvisational flow.
François Couturier first recorded for ECM with the Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem on the pan-cultural album “Khomsa” in 1994, subsequently becoming a member of Brahem’s highly popular trio – a period documented on the recordings “Le pas du chat noir” (2001) and “Le voyage de Sahar” (2005). He also recorded in duo with the violinist Dominique Pifarély (album “Poros”, 1997).
“Nostalghia: Song for Tarkovsky”, recorded in 2005, brought Couturier’s music to a new audience. The disc was also warmly received by the international press, with the Irish Times’s Ray Comiskey writing that “composer and pianist Couturier evokes the emotional and spiritual climate of Tarkovsky’s films. Mixing classical rigour with improvisation, both formal and free, what emerges is austerely beautiful, etched in sombre hues that are redolent of an unslakeable thirst to connect with a deeper well of the spirit, one that may be felt but never quite known.”
A solo showcase/CD launch concert is in preparation, to be held at Paris’s Maison de la Poesie theatre in February 2010. Further Couturier discs are in preparation, including a new ‘Tarkovsky quartet’ disc with Anja Lechner, Jean-Marc Larché and Jean-Louis Matinier, recorded in December 2009.