Aural gallery opens a new view as guests from the past pay a visit.
Looking from the outside, it’s been a four-decade quest for Cyrille Verdeaux, an attempt to re-embrace the grandeur of 1975’s “Clearlight Symphony” that brought the Frenchman’s name to the progressive community’s collective consciousness, but it took the remark by his country’s ambassador in Brazil, who described the pianist’s style as “impressionist,” to see a way to do so. And though the musical interpretation of visual art isn’t new, Rick Wakeman painting tuneful portraits for years, Verdeaux imposed it onto the transparent minimalism of Satie and Debussy, whose pieces reflected the graphical technique of their brush-wielding contemporaries. Yet in order to go beyond the frame and throw the artists’ personalities into the mix, Cyrille wrapped it all into an expressionistic emotionality as carried out by his array of keyboards.
This approach is overt on the humorous titles such as “Lautrec Too Loose” or “Time Is Monet,” the latter a pastoral playground for Craig Fry’s chamber violin and the former full of fusion vigor, yet it’s much more affecting when it comes to sonic means. Thus, the ivories-iced transparency of “Renoir En Couleur” is given a blood infusion through Steve Hillage’s guitar that in turns rages and soothes, while Didier Malherbe’s reeds weave a landscape motif. On the “Gauguin Dans L’Autre” orchestral uplift, a romantically impressionistic one, the two GONG veterans are joined by Tim Blake, but his cosmic Theremin, as well as Don Falcone’s tubular bells, as easily adds a surrealistic fog to the belligerent vista of “Pissarro King” with Vincent Thomas-Penny’s battle axe held high.
Contrastingly, “Degas De La Marine” samples a trumpet to sculpt a sunlit glory amidst a jazzy ripple which intensifies for “Van Gogh 3rd Ear” as Linda Cushma’s Chapman Stick chops Hillage’s twang, before “Monet Time Duet” leaves Verdeaux’s piano suspended in a slow circling with Fry’s four strings. Achingly beautiful, a most perfect soundtrack for a visit to the museum one cannot help but feel the urge to pay the sooner the better.