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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)

When this work was written, the economic situation in Quebec and Canada was in flux: budgets were being squeezed, social services were being cut, we were being urged to tighten our belts. At the same time, we learned that three Canadian banks were announcing that profits were up by more than 20% and that one of our state-owned companies had made a net profit of 429 million in less than three months. At the time, naming a piece of music Compressions made many people smile; it was a “topical” title for contemporary music work.

Compressions is therefore inspired by the action of compressing, creating pressure. You turn down the volume, you compress the sound, you prevent something from happening, or you reduce budgets.

Compressions consists of contrasts and bifurcations. As is almost always the case, my starting point was the instrumentation, composed of unequal forces, all relevant to the subject: eight brass instruments, four strings, a single percussionist and two keyboards. An orchestral situation full of potential which allowed me to work within an interrupted discourse of variations and superimpositions. Despite my talk of economy, there is no script in my music. I have composed a work that I hope expresses not an idea but emotions, states of mind that follow one another.

This work was composed for the SMCQ and its Artistic Director Walter Boudreau, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. The concert was recorded on CD by Analekta SMCQ LIVE. Compressions was also performed in 1997 at the Radio-France festival “Présence” in Paris.