This is an ambitious and largely successful second album from the Paris-born and London-educated pianist/composer. Epoques alternates between solo piano pieces that bear witness to the influence of Debussy and Philip Glass (among others) and tracks with members of the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO).
It is the latter arrangements that generally work more successfully, with “The Only Water” presenting an impressive mix of LCO strings and electronic processing that sustains well, astutely balancing instruments and soundscape effects without drifting into a nebulous atmospheric.
Certain piano compositions, though consistently very well played, are not quite as engaging. “Redux” meanders, lacking any singular sense of purpose. Yet, the following “Overflow” has first rate cello work and beautifully explores a range of directions while keeping a clear sense of coherence.
One consistent positive throughout is the fine production by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, and on the complex “Fracture Points” there is a gorgeous melange that incorporates the sound of Gustav Holst’s own upright piano. It’s a highlight of the album, and shows that she ought to place more trust in her undoubted talent for creating adventurous sound. Her experience of film-scoring shows through to excellent effect here and on tracks like “Ultramarine” where the restrained piano notes fit so well alongside the crafted string and electronica parts.
There is much to admire in Epoques. At its best, it has a maturity of composition and a genuine sense of adventurous exploratory innovation. In terms of moving beyond the spare delicacy of contemporary minimalist-inspired pianism, sometimes more really does mean more.