Sunday, September 27, 20203:00 pm
Works by Longtin and Ustvolskaya.
The SMCQ brings a breath of fresh air to this new season, with a program combining sound power and total freedom. To this end, two works by the Russian composer Ustvolskaya will invite the audience to discover sounds as unique as his instrumentations. Included are his piece for eight double basses and a cube struck by a hammer! Michel Longtin — one of Canada’s most original voices — then pays tribute to Sibelius and echoes the composer’s Finnish landscapes. Vents nordiques explores musical nordicity. An exciting insight into two composers with singular styles. Ultimately, a mind-clearing moment of great musical intensity!
Works introduced with commentary by Georges Nicholson.
Composition No. 1 — Dona Nobis Pacem (1970-71), 17:00piccolo, tuba and piano
Composition No. 2 — Dies Irae (1972-73), 18:008 double basses, piano and percussion
Pohjatuuli, hommage à Sibelius (1983), 25:00clarinet, 2 horns, trumpet, trombone, 3 percussions, 2 cellos and 2 double basses
Word from the Artistic Director
Welcome to the opening concert of our 55th season, 2020-2021!
Since I am not available to conduct this concert, I have entrusted it to the young and talented conductor Jean-Michaël Lavoie, who is not new to the SMCQ and who will lead the ship to port as he has always done during his previous performances with us.
This concert, which will take place under special — even exceptional — circumstances in the context of a global pandemic, is the result of our efforts and above all of our will to present — in a safe and comfortable way — events and concerts before an audience, despite the capricious and uncertain intricacies that COVID-19 has in store for us.
Today’s program has undergone a few “adjustments” resulting from the instructions on social distancing, which led us to partially revise it.
Two works by the incomparable and unclassifiable Russian composer Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006) will be performed alongside a “flagship” work from the Quebec repertoire. Michel Longtin’s Pohjatuuli (North wind in Finnish) is one of the rare pearls of our contemporary musical heritage, dedicated to the memory of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The work won the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music in 1986. Presented with remarkable success on numerous occasions during the SMCQ’s European tour in 1988, Pohjatuuli was recorded and subsequently burned on CD by Radio-Canada. The work was performed at the New Music America Festival in Philadelphia in 1987 and last heard 17 years ago, at the opening of MNM 2003.
What the two composers have in common is that they have developed their own easily identifiable language. The ideas are clear in their respective “dramatic” unfolding — in Ustvolskaya’s case, obsessive — pictorial and organic, in Longtin’s, each inhabited by an irresistible force in their dramatic unfolding.
Ustvolskaya’s two selected works (Dona Nobis Pacem and Dies Irae) are part of her “secret” catalogue of 21 pieces composed on the sly, in complete freedom, at odds with the instructions and horrifying aesthetic constraints of Soviet realism and “official” music which could — if it had been discovered at the time — have earned her a stay in a gulag!
By contrast, Michel Longtin composed Pohjiatuuli in complete socio-political freedom and in broad daylight, without fear of reproach, delivering music of a rare intensity, at times excessive, evocative of the great Nordic spaces evident in a good part of his instrumental and/or electroacoustic production. We have called upon the formidable clarinetist André Moisan, an “old” regular of the SMCQ, who will play the virtuoso solo part of this work with panache.
Finally, my friend George Nicholson — with his legendary verve and lively spirit — will act as master of ceremonies throughout this concert. He will help you discover and familiarize yourself with several essential aspects in understanding and, above all, appreciating this out of the ordinary music!
Enjoy the concert, have a good 55th season with the SMCQ and… see you soon!
Walter Boudreau, September 33, 2020.