Play audio clip

piano and violin

“another lost soul approaches / who has fashioned a wreath, a bouquet / and extends the blossoms towards you without ceremony” — Daniel Guénette, “Sur ces décombres et floraisons nouvelles,” Empiècements, Éditions Tryptique, 1985

Sur ces décombres et floraisons nouvelles (1995), for violin and piano, is the result of a commission from Duo Olga (Olga Razenhofer and Olga Gross), to whom the work is dedicated. The title of the work derives from the first line of a poem by Daniel Guénette, an artist whose work has already served as the inspiration for two of Panneton’s major vocal works: À la légère (1985) and Cantate de la fin du jour (1993). The work at hand was composed in the heat of a devoted exploration of voice and words. As a result, the composer explains, this piece betrays a similar “irresistible desire to sing high and loud,” pressed into the service of a purely instrumental work. The play of opposites found in the title (crumbling/blossoming), which recurs elsewhere in Guénette’s poem (sight/blindness, stones/rain, heap/cluster), corresponds to a succession of alternately tense and relaxed moments, at once within individual phrases and in the overall formal scheme of the work.

The thread that weaves its way through all three movements is a repeated note. Audible throughout the work, though at times varied (e.g., tremelos, trills, insistently repeated melodic fragments), this musical gesture operates as a means of sonic unification, even as it may be viewed as the artist’s compositional thumbprint, with reminiscences of, for example, the vocal line of the 1994 L’âme saule. Generally speaking, the instrumental writing is highly idiomatic, sometimes fondly recalling sonatas for the same instruments by Debussy and Bartok. For as with its predecessors, this sonata is a true duo, one that demands intimate communication between the two performers, through writing that includes the transfer of violin material to the harmonies created through the piano pedaling, which is carefully notated. Despite obvious discrepancies of sonority between the partners, they often arrive together on the same pitch. This unanimity in difference is particularly evident in the final movement, that first exposes a desolated landscape (crumbling?), only to give way gradually to living entities (blossoming?) that eventually leads serenely to a calm closing, to a silence frought with meaning.

Works from this period in Panneton’s often betray a fruitful balance between the lyrically poetic and the formally concise. This score likely lends itself well to analysis, for each detail plays a precise role in the final narrative. At the same time, this absolute control over material remains deeply submerged in the music’s spontaneous waves.

  • Score available at CMC, Région du Québec.
  • Recording: CD: SNE 639