10 ReversoShooting Star – Étoile Filante
Alternate Side Records (ryankeberle.bandcamp.com/album/shooting-star-toile-filante)

If you are wondering how, on Étoile Filante, a trombone, a cello and a piano might come to be evocative of the musical voice of Lili Boulanger you might have no need to look further than the intrepid trio Reverso, comprising the trombone of Ryan Keberle, the cello of Vincent Courtois and the piano of Frank Woeste. But how did they succeed in recreating the ephemeral beauty of Boulanger’s music? 

The answer is quite clearly in the use of uncommon instrumental voicing to mirror the poetics of a composer’s work that once combined vocal sensuousness with spectral imagery daubed onto the darkened sonic canvas. The cello’s bow sweeps across the strings of the instrument in an alternating movement of flux and flow. Meanwhile the trombone moans – almost always pianissimo – with a deeply religious intensity pouring out in solemn, elliptical melodic lines. Meanwhile the piano provides the harmonic glue as an overwhelming sense of mystery pervades the ensuing music. 

As sculpted phrases are created from notes that leap off the staved paper dancing and pirouetting in rarefied air around us, we find ourselves in the ephemeral world – literally and figuratively speaking – of Boulanger, the younger of the two legendary French musician-sisters. 

The subtle chromaticism of Boulanger’s songful music comes brilliantly alive. These are songs without words, every bit as compellingly delicate in a Mendelssohnian way, and the music sparkles like stars shooting across a glittering soundscape.

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