Stasis No. 1 – Intersections
Video of the premiere by Daniel Áñez.
Intersections is the first piece of Stases, a new cycle that explores the expressive possibilities of extreme slowness, seeking tension in a dialectic between immobility and movement. Unceasingly punctuated by dry and abrupt silences, several processes unfold here slowly, twist and intertwine. From their intersections arise sounds that are sometimes dissonant, sometimes consonant: the slowness of the tempo invites the performer as much as the listener to fully feel the vibration of their resonance in the piano. These lines will crystallize, burst, crystallize again. The linear time will be broken and reconstructed, ultimately leading to the strangeness of a music serene and anxious at once.
Cette oeuvre pour piano a été une commande d’Éric Champagne dans le cadre de sa résidence à la Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur. Création: 17 mai 2018.
Le Lion et l’oiseau
Premiere on April 14th, 2016 by the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra conducted by Andrei Feher, Théâtre Outremont.
Le Lion et l’oiseau (The Lion and the Bird) is a commission from the Metropolitan Orchestra for its concert Carnaval des animaux, in its Airs de Jeunesse series 2015-2016, dedicated to a young audience. Inspired by the magnificent album of the same name by Montreal author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc, this work describes orchestrally the touching encounter between a lion and a wounded bird that it shelters. They will spend the winter together, because “the cold, when you’re two, is not that bad”. Then comes spring, and separation, and … who knows, a reunion? A modern fable about friendship, which I tried to render in music with delicate textures, where still time and silences punctuate the cycle of the seasons.
Premiere on January 26th, 2016 by the Ensemble Arkea conducted by Dina Gilbert, Chapelle Historique du Bon-Pasteur.
Vestiges (Remains) is a work that explores the multiplication of time and memory. The music is divided into successive facets, and searches for its way through the reminiscences of a long-forgotten melody that gradually returns to our minds. The piece evolves, but does not develop: the music is there, monolithic, motionless, frozen in the past. As our time goes by, its remains static, like an ancient temple frozen in the ice, swept by the wind in silence. The violence of a central shock will not change anything: its fugitivity succeeds a conclusion that sees the melody down in its immobility, unalterable. To which peaks did it go up to before? The fragments of time remain silent and the incomplete work leaves us in oblivion.
This piece for small string orchestra was composed for the final of the 2015-2016 edition of the Accès Arkea contest.
Lambeaux (Shreds) is a piece based on a traditional Polish song, deconstructed, disembodied. The melody stretches quietly in time, then the music opens up to chords that are subtly off-key in the treble and to violent chaos in the bass. Then, little by little, the framework is torn, and only silences remain.
This piece for small string orchestra was composed for the 2015-2016 edition of the Accès Arkea contest.
Prelude, Passacaglia & Fugue
Premiere on December 9th, 2014 by the Blue Rider ensemble, Oscar Peterson Concert Hall.
Prelude, Passacaglia and Fugue is a deconstruction of classical Baroque forms. Through a harmonic language that borrows from Shostakovich, Bartók and Pärt, as well as the processes of stretching and contraction of time, this piece blurs playfully the formal framework exposed by the title. The prelude is only sketched at the beginning, and the fugue establishes itself by announcing the passacaglia that it contaminates. The prelude closes the form, too elegiac after the central tension, and disturbed by the themes of the two other parts that overflow their boundaries and try to derail it, without ever succeeding.
This work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion was commissioned by the Blue Rider ensemble.
Sarabande pour une supernova
Premiere on March 30th, 2013, by the ensemble La Machine, conducted by Cristian Gort, Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal.
Supernova, dying star, exploding star. A moment where death and light are linked, on a cosmic scale where time and space evolve beyond our understanding. Sarabande like a requiem, like a frozen dance, moving imperceptibly. The explosion of the supernova is very violent, but millions of light-years away, the star seems immobile, and we are anyway witnesses to an event that has already taken place in another age, another time. This opposition between violence and immobilism guided the composition of this piece, where a compressed time, simultaneity of all gestures and melodies, expands, like an expanding universe, towards a quasi-static, elegiac, melancholy.
This work for 2 saxophones, electric guitar, harp, synthesizers, contrabass, percussion and real-time processing was a commission from the ensemble La Machine for the E-Space concert.
Recording by the Arkea Ensemble, conducted by Dina Gilbert.
Video of the premiere by the Arkea Ensemble, conducted by Dina Gilbert.
Six directors paired with six composers for the project À Court de mots! (Short of Words!) where silent short films were accompanied by original music performed live by an orchestra of 25 musicians. The basic idea of the short film Ostinato, directed by Jean-François Lavalière, was to make music a full-fledged character, which goes beyond its accompaniment role to annoy and almost turn the main protagonist crazy. Trying to flee the soundtrack, to smother it, even to hide under water, our hero finally manages to discover the source of his torment by literally leaving the screen.
This work for orchestra of chamber was a commission of Codes d’Accès and the Ensemble Arkea for the cine-concert À Court de mots!. Premiere on February 24th, 2013, Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, as part of the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois.
Premiere on October 27th, 2011 by the ensemble Quatrix, Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal.
Deconstructing László is a tribute to the work of the Hungarian painter, photographer and sculptor László Moholy-Nagy. A contemporary of Bartók, Moholy-Nagy was strongly associated with the Bauhaus artistic movement and his formalistic ideas: more concise than Kandinsky but less cerebral than those of Malevich, his paintings are fascinating with dynamism. In nine short movements, this sequence deconstructs the painter’s aesthetic in an alternation between sequences named Order and their opposite, Disorder: two states of matter simultaneously present in his visual works, here dislocated.
This work for 2 pianos and percussions was a commission from the ensemble Quatrix for the opening concert of the 2011-2012 season of Codes d’Accès.
Pictures of a Revolution
Praha 1968, premiere on June 18th, 2011 by the Orchestre Symphonique de l’Isle conducted by Cristian Gort, Oscar Peterson Concert Hall.
Suite in five movements for large orchestra, Pictures of a Revolution is a series of paintings, testimonies in music of historical events having marked the countries of Eastern Europe behind the Iron Curtain, and of which we still feel the repercussions today. The greatness and decline of communism are linked in this work to five conflicts involving so many cities: the Warsaw uprising in 1944, the Budapest uprising in 1956, the Prague Spring in 1968, the Solidarność strike in Gdańsk in 1980 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Three of the five movements were premiered on June 18th, 2011 in Montreal by the Orchestre Symphonique de l’Isle conducted by Cristian Gort. The recording of Praha 1968 can be heard here, and simulations of the other movements are available below.
Premiere on April 6th, 2010 by the Atelier de musique contemporaine of the University of Montreal, conducted by Lorraine Vaillancourt, Salle Claude-Champagne.
Cantus for Gilles Tremblay, Cantus as a song, Cantus firmus. The work of Tremblay evokes for me a burst, a formal shift, flickering harmonies tinted by the omnipresent shadow of faith. From the neo-Gregorian monody of the first movement and his treatment in canon to the fugue that frames the frenzied race of the third one is established a set of references interspersed with bursting gestures on the piano, melting in the frame of the strings. In the center of Cantus, a slow movement with sustained chords and silences, paradoxically the most intense of the three: without beginning or end, fixed in an elegiac timelessness.
This work for string quartet, piano and timpani was commissioned by the Atelier de musique contemporaine of the University of Montréal for the Héritage Tremblay concert presented by the SMCQ.