ArtsATL > Music > Review: Percussionist Victor Pons, French-based Links Duo offer compelling “new music”

Review: Percussionist Victor Pons, French-based Links Duo offer compelling “new music”

Link Duo's . (Photos by Mark Gresham)
Link Duo's . (Photos by Mark Gresham)
Links Duo’s Laurent Durupt (on electronic keyboard) and Remi Durupt. (Photos by Mark Gresham)

The Goat Farm Arts Center’s Goodson Yard was the site of this past Friday’s performance by percussionist Victor Pons, with percussion and piano group Links Duo and percussionist Paul Stevens. The concept of the Ampere 2.0 concert stems from Pons’ original solo Ampere show from last May. Recordings and video from that and other concerts helped connect Pons to Links Duo in France. Links Duo are brothers, pianist Laurent Durupt and percussionist Remi Durupt.

Pons opened the concert with “Duo for Cajón & Computer” (2011) by Cort Lippe. The cajón is an Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument, shaped like a box, on which the player usually sits and plays by slapping or striking it, with hands and fingers most commonly, but sticks, mallets or other objects that seem suitable at the moment can also be used.

The computer’s part is to take the audio signal from the cajón (through a microphone) and analyze it. The data is used to manipulate the computer’s own sound output in real time, so the cajón player influences that output by his own expressive capabilities. It was a great rhythmic opener. Pons had already performed the work earlier this month, on April 5, as part of a solo recital at Georgia State University’s Kopleff Hall, in fulfillment of an “Artist Certificate” beyond the master’s degree he completed last year. Pons, who was featured as one of ArtsATL’s “30 under 30” profiles, will continue his studies by heading to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign this autumn to pursue a doctor of musical arts degree.

Percussionist Remi Durupt took the stage next to perform a vibraphone and electronics solo, “Loops II” (2001–02) by Philippe Hurel. It was written for an advanced-level vibraphone competition, so different sections address specific techniques in a virtuoso context.

Victor Pons
Victor Pons

The piece used “small loops” of musical motifs, or “cells,” a common practice today; what was different was that the cells returned to the motif stated at the outset. So while constantly morphing, the music felt like it went in circles. Durupt laid down a stellar, almost hypnotic performance.

The last two works on the program, “Studi Sulla Notte and Sonate” and “Sonate en triOhm,” both composed by Laurent Durupt, received their Western Hemisphere premieres in this concert. They had previously been performed only in Europe.

“Studi Sulla Notte” (“Studies of the Night”) is a piece for variable instrumentation and duration, originally conceived for prepared piano and electronics for performance at a 2013 festival at Villa Medici in Rome, Italy. While composing it, Durupt was reading Rhizome, a book by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and Félix Gattari, and chose improvising techniques inspired by Deleuze’s concept of an “image of thought” that apprehends multiplicities rather than dualities. In this performance, both of the brothers were the live performers, Laurent on a small electronic keyboard and Remi on percussion.

A somewhat global minimalistic piece, the electronic part began with quasi-aspiration sounds that quickly became more clearly artificial, then offered up pulses that transformed into micropulses for the duration of the work. It is scheduled to be performed again at Villa Medici on May 12 as a solo by Laurent Durupt, then again as a duo with Remi on June 6 in Paris.

For the concert’s final work, “Sonate en triOhm” (2011), Pons and Remi Durupt were joined by percussionist Paul Stevens. A University of Georgia alumnus, Stevens has received previous exposure to Atlanta’s new music audience by playing in several Chamber Cartel concerts and with other Atlanta area groups. Pons says he met Stevens in February and subsequently invited him to participate in Ampere 2.0.

The work’s seven contiguous movements find historical analog in the Baroque trio sonatas of Arcangelo Corelli. Each movement explores a different interaction between electronics and percussion instruments, with the numbers of live performers varying between them. Pons has played the solo movements of “Sonate en triOhm” before, and has added them to his original Ampere program. This performance of the entire 40-minute work was the highlight of the evening, well staged and compellingly performed.

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