Chronique 180-Marcien Guy-Frantz Toussaint: a higher musical standard (English version)

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Chronique 180-Marcien Guy-Frantz Toussaint: a higher musical standard (English version)

Post by serge.bellegarde » Mon Apr 26, 2021 1:07 pm

Chronique musicale 180: Marcien Guy-Frantz Toussaint (Gifrants):
A higher musical standard

In 1968, the musicologist, lawyer and honorary member of the Beethoven Society, Etienne Constantin Eugène Moise Dumervé published an excellent book entitled: Histoire de la musique en Haiti. Nevertheless, his profession as a lawyer at the Port-au-Prince Bar Association did not prevent him to find time to devote himself to his passion which was music. He set out in this book to show the richness and the diversity which characterize Haiti`s musical heritage, something many were not aware of.

Meanwhile , in his book published in 2014 and entitled: Histoire du style musical d`Haiti, the ethnomusicologist Claude Dauphin said the following: “Haitian music lovers refer to the works of artists like Ludovic Lamothe, Justin Élie, Camen Brouard, Werner Jaegerhuber and Frantz Casséus as “Haitian classical music” . Nowadays, no one can fail to recognize the formidable talent of Haitian classical pianist Micheline Laudun Denis who, despite her advanced age, continue to amaze her public in concerts everywhere. Today, there is another name that deserves to be added to the list of Haitian classical musicians. Many may not have heard about him , but in the tradition of icons like Justin Elie or Micheline Laudun Denis, Julio Racine, to name but these very few, I think that Marcien Guy-Frantz Toussaint, better known under his artist’s name of Gifrants, is part of that select group of Haitian classical musicians and composers. .

Gifrants is a musician who has been practicing his art for a very long time, but it is through the release of his latest opus « Pyano sa – Simi klasico », that one is able to fully appreciate the depth of his musical knowledge. As the title indicates, it is a CD of classical compositions and therefore, part of the repertory of Haitian classical music. Indeed, what we discover here is that Gifrants` musical knowledge is not only deep, but he is a great composer also. Of the eleven songs on the CD, nine of them are his own compositions. That is not small feat! The remaining compositions are wonderful classical arrangements of well-known songs taken from our folklore: “Latibonit o” and “Anjelik o”. It is one thing to compose songs, but it is another to have the right musicians who will render exactly what you feel when you write a song. In that respect, Gifrants chose the perfect cast of musicians to interpret his music: Marianne Parker piano, Jennifer Leckie, lead violinist; Tom Clowes cellist, Benjamin Weber, violist; Rasa Mahmoudian, violinist. All these musicians are part of an organization called: Cross Borders Music. Gifrants who is also a member of this organization, wrote and arranged the music; he was not one of the performers.

Whoever enjoys classical music, art music that connects with your soul and makes you feel comfortable, will appreciate this CD. Take a listen to the first tune “Balad Damou”. It is a real joy to hear how the pianist true to the feelings the composer seeks to transmit: passion, sentimentality, innocence. Those sentiments resonates inside of us. The second tune “ Louwanj” is another testimony to Gifrants`musical depth, to his tremendous sense of creativity. Marianne Parker`s play on the piano is outstanding. Listen how her left hand manages the bass of the piano while her right hand is playing a beautiful melody in a series of counterpoints. In the liner notes of the CD, Claude Dauphin describes this composition as an homage to nature and its diverse manifestations.

The tune “Yanvalou Ginen” once more shows the extraordinary capacity of the pianist to translate on the keyboard the feelings of the composer. Listen to how Gifrants has Ms Parker use the bass of the piano to mimick the yanvalou beat while her right hand plays the melody.

I would like to put particular emphasis on the two pieces arranged by Gifrants on the CD: “Latibonit o “ and “Anjelik o”. My hats off to Gifrants` extraordinary work in transforming these tunes into classical pieces!.

In “Latibonit o”, Gifrants introduces the cello for a specific reason. The solemn tone of the instrument allows Gifrants to describe in sound the tragedy of an unexpected death which create consternation for everyone. One does not even need to know the lyrics to feel the sadness transmitted through the piano and the cello.

I also marveled at the treatment Gifrants gave to another Haitian classic folkloric song, “Anjelik o”. The play of the cello and the piano are absolutely stunning and it is most enjoyable to listen to the interaction of the cello and the piano, as if in a musical dialog. As far as I know, there had never been such classical treatment of this folkloric tune and this arrangement is one more testimony to the creativity of Gifrants.

« Pyano sa – Simi klasico » is a CD that places Marcien Guy-Frantz Toussaint squarely among the Haitian classical composers and arrangers group. I will not go as far as saying he is in the same class as a Justin Elie, for example, but I believe when music lovers will be referring to Haitian classical music, they will not fail to mention Gifrants as being a member of this elite group of Haitian classical musicians.

For those interested in adding this CD to their collection, the CD is available on Amazon, on the MP3 platform. In the window of the Amazon page, type “Pyano sa” and you will be able to acquire the MP3 version of the CD.

Serge Bellegarde for Windows on Haiti - april 2021

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