flute (flute in G), oboe (English horn), clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, piano and 2 percussions

Commission: SMCQ, with support from the CALQ

Premiere: November 14, 1996, Anniversaires, Salle Pierre-Mercure — Centre Pierre-Péladeau, Montréal (Québec)

As part of the concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of the SMCQ, I thought of writing a work in homage to the music of Quebec. I chose four composers who have left their mark on Quebec’s musical modernity. Therefore Jeu des portraits is presented in four movements:

  • Vagues, a tribute to Rodolphe Mathieu (1890-1962)
  • Vents, a tribute to Jean Papineau-Couture (1916)
  • Plages, a tribute to Serge Garant (1929-86)
  • Chants, a tribute to Claude Vivier (1948-83)

I did not attempt to create a pastiche of their language. Rather, I have tried to express, with my own cultural background and through the filter of my sensitivity, the different impressions that their music suggests to me, what they evoke in my imagination. Vagues was created from harmonic material taken from R. Mathieu’s Trois Préludes pour piano, and I tried to preserve the “fin de siècle” atmosphere that reigns in the work.

Vents is the only one of the four movements featuring specific citations as its starting point: the beginning of Vents capricieux sur le clavier,and the Rondo from Suite pour piano. In Plages, I explored, in my own way, the pointillistic textures so dear to Garant, in addition to using a series of numerical proportions from J. S. Bach’s “Musical Offering” (3419825), which he often used in his works. The fourth movement is based on an excerpt from Vivier’s Shiraz for piano. The colour of the tubular bells and gamelan gongs recalls his world of sound.