Program Notes

When I visited St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, one of the aspects which made the greatest aesthetic impact on me came from an unexpected source: the floor. In such a place - where all attention is oriented towards the ceiling, one doesn’t expect to be amazed by a floor, which can seem prosaic compared to a dome. Yet the floorings of Saint Mark’s, deeply rooted in the Byzantine mosaic tradition, made the greatest impression on me. As I have worked for some time on musical mosaics, focusing more on assembling constellations of musical material than making linear development, I began an imaginary conversation between these tiled floors and my preoccupations as a composer. Specifically, I engaged with ideas of fragmentation, ornamentation, repetition, mirrors, sets of sequences, concentric areas, and — since it’s part of the beauty of the beauty of the floors — wear and tear. More generally, I was interested in the paradox of these pavements: they tread the fine line between geometric rigor and decorative charm, arid stone and floral motifs, unity and fragmentation, sparseness and density, weaving texture and smoothness, variation and repetition. Les pavements de San Marco was composed in 2012 for Montreal’s Duo Mandolini / Poulin, with the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Quebec.