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Commission: Orchestre symphonique de Québec (OSQ), with support from the CCA

This work, — a rough translation might read The Laughing Cactus and the Maiden Suffering from an Insatiable Thirst — was commissioned by the Quebec Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Canada Council for the Arts. It was first performed by that orchestra under the direction of Simon Streatfeild at the Grand Théâtre in Quebec City on February 16th, 1988. These words by the composer explain the essentially programmatic nature of this 23-minute work: “The cactus is a rather solitary plant. It grows against all odds, and it sometimes must cover itself with spines. […] Once a young maiden, wandering about in the sands, came upon the cactus. […] and so it was that the cactus discovered its reservoir of water, of which until now it had been unaware, and invited her to drink from its body while the two embraced in a rapturous smile. This Cactus rieur… harks back to some extent to the tradition of the symphonic poem, but its program is less defined. It is not really so important to follow a story-line blow by blow. Instead, I let myself follow the succession of contrasting moods suggested by this bizarre encounter.

“Musically, I like playing around at the very fringes of the known and the possible… I take pleasure in an imaginary hybrid, and I enjoy inventing ensembles from half-forgotten fragments found in the backs of drawers… like Richard Strauss and Miles Davis coming together — an absolutely impossible combination […] that’s about it.”

  • Score available at CMC, Région du Québec.
  • Recording: CD: SNE 567 CD «La musique du réalisme magique Vol. 2»