Connoisseurs of experimental or avant-garde chamber music may already know of Samantha Bouquin’s inventive and entrancing sounds. This is music of great integrity, startling vitality, and striking originality, yet it is virtually unknown outside the cult following that has appreciated these ingenious compositions. A cross between homespun classical populism and the sophisticated experimentation of the avant-garde, Bouquin’s music follows in the iconoclastic tradition of forward thinking composers, but with its own frank expression, exuberance, and wayward charm; yet it is also accessible to the casual listener in the directness of its material and the clarity of its techniques, no matter how dense the textures or peculiar the tunings may sound.
“Contemplations on Solitude and Strings” her latest 3 track compilation forges the sounds of a string quartet with mesmeric ambient backdrops. To the untrained ear, these musical pieces can be a bit daunting on a first hearing, and the more complicated aspects of Samantha Bouquin’s creations may be elusive. Yet these are boldly original works, and the coherence of the music – adventurous as it is – is best appreciated through patient listening. From the opening piece – “Contemplation #1” – the music is highly expressive music, often beautiful, melancholic, thoughtful, intense, and dysphoric.
The pieces that follow suit – “Contemplation #2” and “Contemplation #3” – are obviously emotionally parallel to the opening track, as they too elaborate the theme of ‘solitude’. Bouquin’s music can be as ethereal as it is balletesque. It is an impressive achievement, music of radical innovation that speaks an expressive and engaging language with a visionary intensity. How can something so complex come across simple and effortless? How can something seemingly mathematical have such spiritual transportative effect? These sounds are poignant, deep and heartfelt.
Amazingly complex in its tonality yet extraordinarily direct “Contemplations on Solitude and Strings” makes your inner self vibrate in unison. A true delight that all can savor once assimilated. These performances really surprised me. The musicianship is impeccable and the experimentation never ostentatious. I am still transfixed by the breathless beauty with which “Contemplation #2” builds its pensive fabric and the celestial grace which precedes the conclusion of that wonderful piece.
Samantha Bouquin brings a lot of depth and expression to her compositions which release all the powerful emotions locked within this music – the whimsicality, the existential angst, and the mysticism, without a single detectable imperfection of ensemble or intonation. There can be no grumbles about the recording, either; the engineer has captured Bouquin’s distinctive sonority with remarkable clarity, and plenty of ambient warmth. This, above all else, is a recording with emotional intelligence! Definitely bravo, and five stars!
MORE ABOUT: Samantha Bouquin has been studying classical music and electroacoustic music since her earliest years, having been raised in a family of professional musicians and composers. She began her musical journey playing piano and violin at age four. Her professional training culminated in a piano performance degree from Juilliard School of music in New York City. Samantha is well known for her experimental work in altering the mechanics and shapes of traditional instruments such as the piano and guitar. She has many custom built instruments which her music is played and recorded on.