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April 6th, 2012
At last! Ishtar is finally born with Louis-Philippe Bonin and the Paramirabo Ensemble. It was an excellent premiere, to my humble opinion among the best concert of the year for the ensemble. If performance quality is always present, it was the concert program that made it memorable, where – when forgetting my work, false modesty assumed here! – many pieces by themselves were worth the detour, like Sur les rives de by Gabriel Dharmoo and Gates of Light by Kevin Lau.
The performance by Louis-Philippe and Paramirabo was both refined and highly energetic, energy being of course mostly in 2nd movement of course. Soft microtonal inflexions and evening nature ambiances of “Étoile du soir, déesse de l'amour” and sheer joy of “Étoile du matin, déesse de la guerre” have been rendered with magnificent accuracy.
Such performance is remarkable, especially when you acknowledge the struggle the ensemble was giving with a lot of surrounding issues to insure a good performance. The Café L'Artère already complicated their task by planning a book launch right before the concert. An error that maybe the Café wanted to make us forgive by serving wine and hors-d'œuvres for free, which was appreciated. But there were other problems.
Soloist and ensemble had to fight a dry room, ungrateful for sound balances. It was a proof by absurdity that strings need a reverberant room to sound well. If they do not have such room, they do not blend well with other instruments and get covered easily, especially by a saxophone designed to replace strings for outside performance! Blending strings and saxophone might sound like an orchestration mistake. It works beautifully however in the Création du monde by Darius Milhaud, the liant (binding) of saxophone coating strings in a surprisingly homogeneous layer. The room was preventing this sound blending from happening in Ishtar. We will be able to find out if it is the real culprit with the recording session at Pollack Hall soon.
Another rather comical issue was the piano. Tuned during daytime, it was already out of tune at concert start. Some notes were sounding like a prepared piano – with nuts and paper on strings, even if the ensemble never did such preparation on piano. It was giving nice cymbalum sounds sometimes, while some other times it sounded more like Pepsi cans! The saddest thing was that this piano was cruely missing basses, essential for Déesse de la guerre (Goddess of War). Finally, war was between the pianist and the piano, excellent Gabrielle Gingras pounding like hell on low notes to extract as much sound as possible.
The Café L'Artère would plan to replace this “surprise-piano” with a small grand piano. We support them 100% on this project.
But finally, it might be me only who heard all these issues. The piece was warmly applauded by the audience. There are even discussions to reprogram the piece later this season.
Marc Belley recorded the concert volunteerly. I should be able to include the video on this site soon. A big thanks to all people that have come for this premiere!
Once I left Café L'Artère, I had the bad surprise to be towed, even if I was parked on the Café parking! It seemed you needed a vignette from the Café for not being towed. There was a sign warning us – among a ton of other signs – that a vignette would be given us when entering the Café... which wasn't given to me!
Come on! Is it necessary to write about how I find this system stupid? This system is imposed by the 7000 av. du Parc landlord. I called the Café L'Artère, who is supposed to talk with the building landlord. In any case, their landlord should consider another system, because clients won't risk paying 86$ each time they dare drive to Café L'Artère... and go fetch their car under Rockland viaduct, 12 streets from the Café!
The Café L'Artère has generously accepted to repay towing fees for my car, for which I thank them. As written earlier, the Café will discuss with their landlord about their parking issues. Hope for the Café that it will work!
But there is worse. “Illegally” parked cars on this parking are towed by Remorquage Québécois à vos frais, which has been the subject of La Facture report in 2004. Still, in 2012, the company continues to demand payment (by credit card for my case) before saying where is the towed car, which is illegal.
If you ever are towed by Remorquage Québécois à vos frais, or any other towing company, and that we ask you to pay fees before knowing your car's location, refuse and call the police. The police knows this company well and will demand itself to give the car's address. In 2004, victims of this procedure have been reinbursed.
Ishtar : video and recording