Kris Defoort & Veronika Harcsa
Pieces of Peace
Kris Defoort (piano, compositions) | Veronika Harcsa (voice) | Lode Vercampt (cello) | Jean-Philippe Poncin (clarinets) | Benjamin Sauzereau (guitar)
Rarely could a project be called such a culmination point of a career as what Kris Defoort presents with Pieces of Peace. Just about all the backgrounds, influences and acquaintances the iconic Belgian composer and improvising pianist collected throughout his long career come together in this distinct and original musical adventure.
Together with vocal artist Veronika Harcsa and three fellow musicians, he forms a chamber orchestra in the strict sense of the word, although they are by no means restricted to that one idiom. As an experienced opera and classical composer, Kris Defoort dribbles the timbres, harmonies, dynamics and, if you like, drama of a complete (opera) orchestra through these compositions, supplemented by an inescapable layer of jazz, obviously the other form of music that remains continuously prominent in Kris' life and DNA.
As always in his work, also improvisation is added as a core element, not least thanks to the voice and inventive personality of Hungarian vocalist Veronika Harcsa, a true European reference in this field. This duo has worked together regularly over the past decade, including for Diving Poet Society (2017, W.E.R.F.148) and in DUET: pure vocal and piano improvisations, on poems by Theodor Roethke, Peter Verhelst and William Blake.
Those musical ideas formed the framework when composing the final new song cycle Pieces of Peace. The duet was then quickly expanded into a quintet, with Lode Vercampt on cello, Jean-Philippe Poncin on clarinets and Benjamin Sauzereau on electric guitar. These three musicians are as well compagnons de route of Kris has since many years, allowing him to incorporate each one's own playing style in a special way throughout these compositions: therefore, the entire orchestral spectrum (woodwinds, strings, percussion) is thus prominently represented through these five instruments.
Intimate and joyful, playful and complex, lyrical and rhythmic, ... and layered and full of detail, each track on the eponymous record unfolds like a story in itself. They are all states of emotions, impressions from real life - another reference to opera. They are also an ode to the voice, the human instrument par excellence. As improvised compositions (or composed improvisations?), Pieces of Peace represents a constant evolution that offers hope, softness and inspiration in times when all this sometimes dares to be lacking.