This is a superb collection of 33 miniatures for piano and chamber orchestra composed by pianist Collard-Neven for theater productions or documentary films between 1994 and 2009.
I was hooked on this record from the second moment when (after a single piano note) the theme of “STIB” is whistled before the addition of piano and voice completes the atmosphere of heartbreaking 1960s innocence. “Je Me Disais Que” follows, with elegant piano figures and further breezy Gallic humming doubled by more whistling. Yes, whistling, that deeply emotional, divine, universal, and much under-rated musical form. "L’estacade” is a somber mind melding piece which might have taken equal inspiration from Mongolian throat singing and the soundtrack of the movie Diva. And so it continues, as Collard-Neven shifts easily between moods and musical styles, mostly evidencing his primary inspiration: memories of being a child lying on his belly watching the films of Sautet, Lelouch, Verneuil, De Broca, Truffaut, Audiard, Almodovar, and many more.
Contrasts range from the ecstatic pulsing piano of "Balbec” to the spoken piece “One Day” (with slamming door and quoted author from 1665). “Il Y A 20 Ans” leans in the direction of Max Richter, and “Maman” could fit the aforementioned Diva soundtrack. Pieces range in length from “Du Sable Dans La Bouche” (0:28) to “Le Tango Des Snipers” (5:24), but most are under two or three minutes. This relative brevity might sound somehow insubstantial, but (to steal rather too literally from Geoff Dyer’s Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It) this is a very rewarding listen for people who can’t be bothered to attend plays, go to art installations, or even listen to entire symphonic movements.