Play audio clip

2 horns, 3 trumpets (piccolo trumpet), 3 trombones, percussion, harp, piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass

Commission: SMCQ, with support from the CCA

Premiere: June 13, 1996, Musica Maxima, Salle Pierre-Mercure — Centre Pierre-Péladeau, Montréal (Québec)

The present time is one of budgetary restrictions—a process that was unfortunately started a few years ago—cutbacks in social services, and we are encouraged to tighten our belts. We learned recently that three Canadian banks were predicting a 20% increase in their profits and that one of our crown corporations posted net profits of 429 million dollars for the first quarter.

Who, in the end, actually benefits from these cutbacks? The answer is obvious, even more so if one considers that statistical data shows an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor. The inspiration for this work may not have been these bugetary restrictions (“compressions” in French), but since it was composed at a time when I felt particularly concerned about what was happening, I realized that it was as disrupted as I was by all this. “Compression,” pressure, tension; the voice of the people is crushed, and public opinion is manipulated in the interest of a unique, obsessive idea: the reduction of the deficit.

Compressions is made of contrasts and detours. My starting point was the instrumentation, which sets up uneven forces: eight brass intruments, four strings, one percussionist and two keyboards. This orchestral situation is filled with potential, and it allowed me to work within an interrupted discourse built from variations and the superimposition of elements. I should clarify one thing: despite my opening statement on the economy and the feeling of helplessness that it expressed, Compressions is not “program music,” it contains no musical scenario and does not draw any conclusions. I wrote music which, I hope, expresses not an idea but emotions—emotions which would be impossible for me to translate into words. (Linda Bouchard)