One look at the album cover should provide a decent insight into the music that François Couturier has created for his third observation. A tranquil, melancholic, and haunting adventure into the realm of classical jazz music is exactly what you'll find on Tarkovsky Quartet, filled to the brim with pastoral compositions and soothing atmospheres. The lush arrangements, dark counter-melodies, and avant-garde sections all make this a memorable musical experience, and a fitting end to Couturier's trilogy to remember filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Tarkovsky Quartet is not an easy album to get into, but repeated listens will eventually reveal its genius to the listener. Even though François Couturier may not have crafted a flawless masterpiece this time around, this is a stunning observation that should appeal greatly to fans of classical and jazz music.
Even though I have mentioned that Tarkovsky Quartet has jazz tendencies, don't expect any influences from bop - this album is entirely void of drums and bass, and instead leaves all of the music in the hands of François Couturier's lush piano soundscapes, Anja Lechner's violoncello, Jean-Marc Larche's soprano saxophone (this is where the occasional jazz tendency comes into play), and Jean-Louis Matinier's accordion. There is always a clear structure to the music, but some of the more sporadic and avant-garde sections do feel like there may have been a touch of improvisation in the mix. When I say "sporadic", I only mean that the composition feels less melodic and put-together than other portions of the album - don't expect any crazy outbursts on Tarkovsky Quartet. This is very much a mellow album, and it demands all of your focus to be truly experienced. I do find my mind wandering during some of the less-interesting parts, probably due to the rather lengthy playing time. I wish the duration were trimmed by about twenty minutes or so - music this calming needs a bit more variation to justify a one hour-plus playing time. In spite of that small complaint, the compositions, musicianship, and production are all excellent throughout the full album.
Tarkovsky Quartet is a pretty impressive collection of compositions, and I will be interested in hearing where Couturier takes this project in the future. Even though it's a bit too drawn out for my tastes, this is a quality CD that fans of modern classical/jazz should undoubtedly further investigate. My final grade will be a solid 3.5 stars.
1. A celui qui a vu l'ange
3. San Galgano
7. La passion selon Andreï
9. Doktor Faustus
11. La main et l'oiseau
12. De l'autre côté du miroir