Jean Paul Riopelle’s paintings are limitless in bounds of matter and texture. His knife strokes and multimedia techniques inspired two of the works on this program, both of which were written for Quatuor Bozzini; Icebergs et Soleil de minuit by Simon Martin, and du nord, a world premiere and new commission by Quatuor Bozzini’s own Alissa Cheung.
Set up as a series of musical paintings, Martin’s Icebergs et Soleil de minuit plays with chance and variation in a continuous process of discovery. Cheung explores similar themes of change and exploration in du nord; fascinated by aviary migration and the depiction of birds in Riopelle’s work, the piece highlights the interplay and communal nature of the string quartet as an ensemble. Cheung writes that “in light of current events, this piece is a call to remain strong and united in our communities. It is also a call to conservancy of wetlands and other vital ecosystems so that we can continue to learn from and be inspired by nature.”
Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq brings “a little bit of the land to future musicians” through her piece Sivunnittinni (the future ones), urging people to re-evaluate their relationship to health, nature, and social living. Rhythmic and textured, the strings reproduce sounds of breaking ice and sometimes err closer to what might even be qualified as noise.
Complementing the aural palette of the programme is Erik Satie’s set of five Nocturnes for piano, arranged for string quartet by Canadian composer Christopher Butterfield. Free of Satie’s usual expressive humour, the suite is remarkably stark in terms of extramusical material, and yet offers a potently expressive perspective through its rich harmonic narrative.
Although written in 1989, Jolas’s work pays homage to Satie’s time period in the way that it echoes Webern’s style (op. 5 and op.9). As if looking through a microscope at a miniature piece, Jolas’s “Menus propos” is brought to life by a kaleidoscope of minute gestures through 4 short pieces.
Presented in conjunction with the Montréal Museum of Fine art, the virtuosity, shimmering colours and timbral explorations of each of these composers will showcase Quatuor Bozzini’s full range and artistry.
Concert presented by Fondation Arte Musica — Salle Bourgie in connection with the exhibition Riopelle: The Call of the Northern Lights and Indigenous Culture of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.