Gaspar Claus ~ Adrienne

Considering how often we’ve typed his name, it’s shocking to realize that Gaspar Claus has never recorded a solo album.  The cellist first came to our attention a decade ago as part of FareWell Poetry ~ a collective whose alumni have continued to make an impact with solo and collaborative ventures.  Claus’ relative anonymity is about to change this fall with the release of Tancade.  In the meantime, he’s recorded the score to an edition of the French documentary series Hobbies.

Adrienne is the story of a woman who discovers she is pregnant while learning to pole dance, and continues her journey after giving birth.  The benefits are many: most obviously, the practice sculpts the body, as seen in Colin Solal Cardo’s gravity-defying “L’Envol” video, featuring instructor Camille De Haas.  There’s also an element of self-confidence: asserting control when the body seems out of control, declaring, “I am more than my familial role.”  When removed from any salacious context, the discipline becomes a sport, harder than most, yet requiring only one piece of equipment.

Claus’ score is dotted with yearning, tinged with resolve.  The cello possesses the ability to plumb depths of emotion other instruments cannot reach.  The title of “Retrouver ma force” (“Regain my strength”) tells us where the protagonist begins: sapped of energy, yet hopeful in her new pursuit.  The slow drone of the cello underlines her consideration ~ should I do this? ~ and the strength of her eventual decision.  As the harmonies amass, one senses a turn for the better.  “Inverser / Le droit d’être la” (“Reverse / The right to be there”) is a declarative statement, as Claus offers more overt melodies, a determined timbre seeping in, bows turned to plucks.  As for “Super héro,” we don’t need Google Translate; the dancer emerges as a new type of hero, an example for all those struggling with body image, wishing to control their own narratives.

The triumph of the Adrienne score is the dignity it lends not only to the protagonist, but to the discipline of pole dancing itself.  While listening, and then while watching, one is overcome by a feeling of awe: the self-control of the dancer reflected by the self-control of the cellist, with every note flowing yet precise.  We can’t wait for Claus’ autumn album, which we already trust will be spectacular.  (Richard Allen)

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