The French group Duo Bertrand presented some exhilarating music as a prelude to the East-West music encounter
The French group Duo Bertrand's concert at the Alliance Francaise on Tuesday must rank as one of the most exhilarating concerts in the Cantonment in recent times. The rich sounds of the bagpipe, violin, cello, Chapman stick, accordion, saxophone and drums together conveyed an overwhelming compassionate sense - deeply haunting and poignant even while being groovy and energetic. The Alliance hasn't probably seen audiences open-up and dance with such spontaneity as they did at this concert, a prelude to the East-West music encounter being organised by the Bangalore School of Music.The concert brought together six very different musicians, each of whom stood out in his own right. Sebasteien Bertrand on the button accordion lent a superb sense of unwinding, Thierry Bertrand on the bagpipe was deep and forceful, Thierry Moreau on the violin and cello was meditative, Sylvain Fabre on the drums was subtle and restrained, Stephane Atrous on the saxophone communicated a great sense of freedom, while Youenn Landreau on the Chapman stick (belonging to the family of the guitar) was simply haunting. His solo, a highly introspective act, was mind-blowing, spiritual almost, overwhelming the accompanying saxophone later.Youenn brought in the tones of the piano, the bass and acoustic guitar onto the Chapman stick - that together lent a stunning resonance, heightened all the more by the magical movement of Youenn's fingers. In dim light, the Chapman stick performance was a sight to behold. The audience could only look and hear with bated breath. Stephane Atrous meanwhile made a brilliant effort in the face of the unusual instrument's charismatic presence to bring the saxophone into its own with breathless improvisations in the jazz mode.
Together though, the Chapman stick and the sax interlude produced sheer drama. And then the sudden shift in tempo to gather pace on the accordion and drums, accompanied by bagpipe and cello in the background, brought in a groovy, Latin feel. You could see Sebastien Bertrand enjoying himself dancing. What is to be said of a music that makes you poignant at one moment, dance the next and yet remain haunting? That sums up a beautiful European moment in a corner of the city.The group presented a mix of traditional-folk and modern, western music in "modern arrangements". This genre of folk music, 200 to 300 years old according to Thierry Bertrand, came from Nantes in Western France. Add to that the modern riffs of jazz, jazz-rock and a bit of hip-hop, and the mix conveyed a variety of emotions.The use of synthesisers enhanced the very ambient, dreamy and yet energetic character of the music. "We do not mind the arrangement because the final sound brings the flavour of traditional-folk and jazz-rock. It has not at all interfered in the making of our sound."Thierry Bertrand notes that their music so far has been popular in western France though they have presented concerts in other parts of France including Paris. "We are well-known otherwise. As a group, we are getting to be known only now because we came up only two years ago. We have begun to travel now and we should be doing well in the coming days."
Thierry Bertrand has been doing extensive research on the bagpipe since 1976 and now makes his own acoustic instruments. Sebastien Bertrand teaches the accordion at the House of Arts in Challans, Thierry Moreau began with folk and blues guitar and went on to the cello and violin and became member of the groups Archetype and Calbestan, Youen Landreau is Chapman stick player since 1984 though he began as pianist, guitarist and bass player. The Chapman stick, created by Emmet Chapman in 1970, is an electric instrument belonging to the guitar family. Youenn is the creator of the Stick Festival. Sylvain Fabre is a classical musician and has interest in French dance from the renaissance. Stephane Atrous comes with a jazz history and is responsible for the creation of the Jazzophone Quartet in 1994. PRASHANTH G.N.