Guy Vandromme plays Bruno Duplant’s ‘l’infini des possibles’

Sunday 17 October 2021

I’m glad that this thing is two hours long as it gave me the chance to come around to it without having to start over. Bruno Duplant’s l’infini des possibles is a set of twelve piano études written in a style that seems baldly simplistic and devoid of inspiration. The score is made of sequences of letters naming notes, all white keys, with stops and spacing to suggest phrases and occasional indeterminate embellishments hinted at through use of accents, apostrophes and uppercase. The pianist Guy Vandromme’s masterful realisation of the score starts out sounding pretty much exactly like that. As you might expect, sounds are isolated as single notes and played with equanimity that suggests overreliance on fashionable reverence for the material’s purity.

It’s a pleasure to hear this initial state change with each successive étude. The accompanying notes tell us that Vandromme “intensely studied these 12 pieces via in-depth discussions with Duplant over two years” and the musical results bear this out with a set of throroughly developed and deeply considered piano pieces, both in the characteristics of each étude and in the overall form of the complete set. The idea of the étude asserts itself as Vandromme takes the unprepossessing score and turns Duplant’s implied markings into various examinations of harmony, texture, articulation and register, starting from the simple and tending towards the complex. The initial arbitrariness implicit in the strings of note-names become a strength as Vandromme exploits the white-note vagaries to form each étude into a new shape and patterning of sonorities. It appears to be an ideal partnership between composer and performer.