Quatuor à cordes no 1 (2001)

Jean Lesage

string quartet

Commission: Quatuor Bozzini



Program Notes

The postmodern response to modernism consists in the acknowledgement that the past, given that it cannot be destroyed, since that destruction would lead to silence, must be revisited: with irony, in a non-innocent manner. Umberto Eco

For the past few years, my works have addressed, among other issues, a critical revaluation of the History of Music. I bring into play typical structures, “characters in sound”, which carry meaning, evocative of certain icons and idiosyncrasies of musical history. Re-interpret certain historical codes with an ear, an awareness and a sensibility relevant to our time. Diversion of the semantical charge of codes and historical icons, through a parodic treatment fueled by intensification, distanciation and a second degree contextualization. Games of hide-and-seek, through layers of ambiguities. Misleading references. So there is in my music a will to address, within the medium of music, what several litterary theorists call hypertextuality. I want to create a connection - whether it be symbolic, cultural, esthetical or technical- between a given material and other earlier materials, in order to create a vast referential network that enriches, by way of multiplication, the first degree of perception. The collision, the friction, the crossbreeding and the process of contextualization invigorate the musical discourse, as much as the traditional manipulations of purely musical parameters. Now it’s a question of composing not only with sounds, but also with meanings. I strive for an Art of metaphore, overcoding, artifice and generalized ambiguity. A complex dialogue with the history of music. Music about music. The dimension of memory is also at the core of my artistic research. In my works, I try to create a fertile exchange between the present-timeness of the work and the remoteness of previous art. A ludic relationship with the history of music takes place on a number of simultaneous levels. Movements involving recollection and forgetfulness, into a manipulation of memory. A reconstruction of the past where the aim is to expose, through the work, the process by which memory assembles, dismantles and reconstructs its own past, by a constant reevaluation of history’s shifting grounds, and their relentless projection into our visions of the future. This because memory is intrinsically biased and charged with meaning. This approach does not originate from a feeling of nostalgia. There is no desire here to regain music’s paradise lost.The idea is to eliminate the borders separating the present, the past and the future.