Le jardin des Hespérides (2005-06)

Cléo Palacio-Quintin

string quartet, and processing

Commission: Madawaksa Quartet, Music Gallery (Toronto), with support from the CALQ


  • 1. Introduction au jardin
  • 2. Le dragon Ladon
  • 3. Le chant des nymphes
  • 4. La visite d’Héraclès
  • 5. Le dernier souffle de Ladon
  • 6. Les secrets des pommes d’or

Program Notes

The Hesperides are nymphs of Greek mythology who live in a magnificent garden near Mount Atlas, where the Golden-Apple Tree grows, given by Gaia at the marriage of Zeus and Hera. It is said that the apples of that tree hold the secret to the gods’ immortality and that the singing of the nymphs is exquisite and enchanting. The four nymphs each represent a specific aspect of knowledge: study (Aegle), intellect (Hespera), memory (Medusa) and eloquence (Arethusa). Although the garden was well guarded by Ladon, the hundred-headed dragon, Heracles, during his twelve labors, succeeded in stealing three apples. Liberally inspired by this mythical allegory, the piece transports the listener at sunset over the Hesperides Garden, to meet the hundred heads of Ladon the Dragon, the Apples of the immortality (golden and gleaming in the declining day), and the vesperal, luminous nymphs glowing in the heart of the darkness.