Les Sensations confuses was commissioned by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, and dedicated to Lorraine Vaillancourt. The premiere took place in the fall of 1993 at the Musica-Festival International in Strasbourg. The composer offers these words about Les Sensations confuses:

“Two basic ideas inform this work: the revitalization of certain aesthetic features of Baroque art within the context of contemporary performance practice, and the desire to explore, in musical terms, what literary theorists denote by ‘intertextuality’ or ‘hypertextuality.’ This consists of setting up symbolic, cultural, aesthetic and technical relationships between a given text and previously written texts in order to establish a large referential network that enriches the first level of perception through a multiplication of referential meanings.

Hence, in a number of my recent compositions, I sought to create in my own musical vernacular the characteristic language of the stilo fantastico of Frescobaldi and Buxtehude, namely, the rapid succession of opposing musical ideas, abrupt variations in mood and tempo, constant interruptions in the flow of ideas, and varied harmonic and rhythmic procedures. Generally speaking, I have attempted to create the coherence of musical organization from the shock of experiencing heterogeneous material. Thus, we find an aesthetic of discontinuity, of inversion, an art of general instability.

Moreover, this art of instability is nourished by a semantic importance, and by the referential values of many different forms with which I inculcate my material. I seek to set in motion highly characteristic structures, ‘sound characters,’ if you will, who are loaded with meaning and suggestive of certain icons, of distinctive gestures from music history. My composition is music of ‘genetic manipulation,’ of transfers of stylistic codes which give birth to paradoxical musical chimeras.” — JL

  • Score available at CMC, Région du Québec.
  • Recording: CD: UMMUS 109