ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Francois Ribac (France) - 2002 - "Que Est Fou?"
(45 min, F. Ribac)

Track List:

1. Ouverture 3:25
2. Intro Lamento 1:47
3. Lamento: 
a) Part-I 4:36
b) Part-II 1:59
4. Ballade 6:10
5. Dead Can Sing 5:22
6. Financier 6:45
7. Duo 8:29
8. The Last Song 6:25

All music by: Francois Ribac.

Lyrics by:
- Francois Ribac
- Eva Schwabe
- Cathal Coughlan
- R. M. Rilke
- H. Le Tellier
- W. Blake
- M. C. Pasquier

Performed by:

Francois Ribac - guitars & synthesizer
L'Hermeneutique Orchestra:
- Felipe Cabrera - bass & contrabass
- Francois Bellin - drums
- Bruno Desmouilleres - percussion
- Laurent Hestin - guitars & banjo
- Frederic Saumagne - flutes & saxophones
- Yann Martin - trumpets
- Francis Touchard - clarinets (on 1, 3, 4, 6, & 9)
- Renaud Pion - clarinets (on 5 & 8)
- Virginie Michaud - violin & viola (on 5, 7, & 8)
- Daniel John Martin - violin (on 1 & 6)
- Pascal Pallisco - accordion

Vocals by:
- Eva Schwabe
- Cathal Coughlan
- Martin Newell
- Marie Jeanne Iche

Engineered by Charles Frossard at "Studio Mesa", France.

Preamble. Above all, it must be said that the new Francois Ribac Rock Opera, "Qui Est Fou?", will probably be released on CD in the end of 2003 and as a double album. Which is because originally, it's duration is much longer than that of the hero of this review - the 45-minute CD-R consisting of extracts from the opera. Before reading this material, I'd recommend that you to read another review, which concerns the "Qui Est Fou?" opera as well. It's > here. The reading of it might be of help especially to those of you who are familiar with the creation of Francois Ribac and love it.

The Album. Above all here, I'd like to say that, being performed with an orchestra, this opera sounds as fresh and vividly (just fantastic!) as "Le Regard de Lyncee" released on CD by Gazul Records, a division of Musea, in 2000. The reviews of this and another full-length opera by Francois Ribac, "Marguerite Ida & Helena Annabel" (1993), can be read > here and > here. Stylistically however, "Qui Est Fou?" is slightly different from any of Ribac's previous operas, which, first of all, concerns the following aspects. This opera (at least as I hear it at the moment) is absolutely free from elements of any old-fashioned music and almost free from those of Operetta. Most compositions, included in this CD-R, are about a blend of Classical Music and Opera with elements of Jazz-Fusion. All of this, being performed mainly with Rock, and also string and brass instruments, sounds like our beloved classic Progressive Rock with a few operatic singers instead of a sole, traditional frontman. In all, there are eight tracks on this CD-R, six of which are songs. Both of the instrumental compositions, Ouverture and Intro Lamento, stand at the head of this 'extractive' album's track list. Intro Lamento (2) entirely consists of the constantly developing passages and solos of semi-acoustic guitar and is undoubtedly the Classical Music-like piece. Even though there are no vocals on the album's opening track, Ouverture, its musical palette was painted with colors of the album's predominant stylistics. With the exception of The Last Song (8), all five of the other songs here, namely: Lamento, Ballade, Dead Can Sing, Financier, and Duo (tracks 3 to 7), are also about the predominant stylistics of the album. Although officially Lamento (3) consists of two parts, there is no pause between them. Furthermore, in my honest opinion, all the compositional, structural, and other aspects of this monolithic suite are uniform. The music on the last song of the album, which is called just The Last Song, while being much simpler than that on any of the other tracks here, is excellent anyway. Stylistically, it represents a really unique fusion of Art-Rock, Prog-Metal, and real Rock & Roll. Also, this is the only song on the album that features traditional Rock vocals rather than operatic ones. The lyrics of "Qui Est Fou?" are in English, German, and French, and the use of (these very) different languages within the framework of the same opera is very typical for Maestro.

Summary. In my honest opinion, Francois Ribac is undoubtedly the key figure among the contemporary solo composers of Prog and one of the central hallmarks of today's international Progressive Rock movement as well. In fact, he is the only contemporary composer who is able to unite Classical Academic Music, Progressive Rock, and Opera in a single whole, which, moreover, is brilliant and by all means. The conclusion on the "Qui Est Fou" opera is simple. As well as Ribac's previous effort, "Le Regard de Lyncee", "Qui Est Fou" is a real classic for the future, which is certainly regardless of whether you will want to have it in your collection when it is released on CD or not. In the meantime however, you can examine yourself and your attitude towards Francois's creation by checking out his previous CD from Musea and listening to it. Though all of his albums that I've heard up till now receive my highest recommendations.

VM: January 15, 2003

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