Music of Gilles Tremblay
1. Champs I – Gilles Tremblay (Roger Admiral, piano; Karl Williams, percussion; Aaron Mattock, percussion)
2.-3. Pièces pour piano – Gilles Tremblay (Roger Admiral, piano)
6.-8. Chants Convergents – Gilles Tremblay (Helen Pridmore, soprano; AK Coope, clarinet; Karl Williams, percussion; Aaron Mattock, percussion; Roger Admiral, piano; Bill Linwood, conductor)
Total duration: 61:37
Helen Pridmore, soprano; AK Coope, clarinet; Karl Williams, percussion; Aaron Mattock, percussion; Roger Admiral, piano; Bill Linwood, conductor
Produced by Aventa Ensemble
Recorded July 28-30, 2021, Farquhar Auditorium, University of Victoria
Recording Engineers: Richard Volet, Bill Linwood
Digital Editing and Mastering: Bill Linwood
Cover Artwork: Marcelle Ferron – Sans Title (1959)
TK508 © 2021 Redshift Music
One of Canada’s foremost composers, Gilles Tremblay traveled an exemplary route. The Quebec pianist and composer has never stopped pushing back the frontiers of his research. His contribution to contemporary music is remarkable, distinguished as it is by an exceptional open-mindedness and a keen awareness of the very nature of sound. Tremblay received his early music training in Montreal from Jocelyne Binet, Edmond Trudel and Gabriel Cusson; later on, he attended the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal where he studied piano with Germaine Malépart and composition with Claude Champagne. He pursued his studies in Paris with Olivier Messiaen, Yvonne Loriod, Maurice Martenot and Andrée Vaurabourg-Honegger, receiving a First Prize in musical analysis as well as a First Medal in ondes Martenot at the Conservatoire de Paris.
Upon his return to Quebec, Gilles Tremblay undertook numerous activities, dividing his time between teaching at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec and working for CBC radio. In spite of his busy schedule, he pursued his own research, composed music, received many commissions and dedicated much time to the sound installation for the Quebec Pavilion at Expo ’67, which won him the Calixa-Lavallée Prize. Major works include Fleuves (1976), Vers le Soleil (1978) and Compostelle I (1978), a tribute to Messiaen on his 70th birthday. Acclaimed for its richness of sound and aesthetics, Tremblay’s music has earned an international reputation and strongly influenced the development of music and contemporary art in Canada.
Champs I (1965, 69)
This work for piano and percussion was completed in 1965 and later revised by the composer in 1969. Composer Bruce Mather commented: “Already evident are some of the regular features of Tremblay’s writing: the carefully controlled and uniform mobiles, both in the networks of pitches and in the rhythmic neumes, the ‘reflexes’, in which the players react to one another by means of sound cues, and the ‘resonance-durations’, in which rhythm is a function of the resonance of the instruments. The work is splendidly successful in its integration of the role of the piano with that of the percussion, and also in the natural blending of instruments of definite pitch with those possessing more complex or imprecise pitches.”
Pièces pour piano – Phases (1956), Réseaux (1958)
“The unusual sonorities afforded by the harmonics of the piano led me to discover in it a completely new dimension, fresh and virtually unexplored except as an occasional effect of additional decoration, and not yet linked to the inner substance of the music (Schumann; Schoenberg Op. 11). Discovering, experimenting, listening in wonder to the sound of these extraordinary vibrations, playing with the innumerable relationships they engender, mediating upon lines that dissolve so naturally into silence, contemplating the new affinities of natural sounds with their effects in resonance already implied incorporation all these elements into the language of the piano, ‘composing’ them in the etymological sense of the word; it also meant being able to use non-tempered sounds with a tempered instrument.” – Gilles Tremblay
Traçantes … auprès, au loin … (1976)
“Traçantes … auprès au loin … takes the form of a succession of nine parts, some very short, but two of them very highly developed. These parts may be played in any order chosen by the performer, except for certain sequences impossible to link. They make special demands on effects of resonance in the piano: great use of pedals, deployment of harmonics and the perception of beats arising from neighboring notes. As always in Tremblay’s work, great pools of sonority are opposed to isolated sounds. The composer himself has given us the key to the deeper meaning of this work in the following lines: ”Thus the music, embracing the present moment, achieves a harmony of sorts with all terrestrial movements, and their play of light and shadow.” Claude Helffer
…le sifflement des vents porteurs de l’amour… (1971)
“The title, …le sifflement des vents porteurs de l’amour… (“…the whistling of the winds, bearers of love…”) is a quotation from the Spiritual Canticle XIV by St. John of the Cross. The ‘formation’ of the music shared between the two soloists is engendered by the very thought of wind (vent), physical and spiritual, as well as by the form and current that animate it. Although it may be divided into a number of sequences, the music, like the verse, is in one single breath orientated by two poles of attraction which also serve as stations. First: frosts, the blinding purity of silence, breath, fringes of existence – birth of a melody by the oscillation of pitch and space. Second: heat which melts and fertilizes, multiplied and infinite possibilities – grafting by games, interaction, and developments where the centrifugal force of the melody seems either to project events out of its center or inversely to concentrate them in the tenuity of the flute (“bearers of love”).
Two other presences are parallel to the verse of Saint John of the Cross and are of great importance; winter, which is the moment of composition, and the fascinating concept of the first moment of the resurrection with the splendid evocation of the Resurrexit and Alleluia of the Easter plainchant Mass.” – Gilles Tremblay
Chants Convergents …Ansârî, Etty Hillesum, Theresa d’Avila… (2003)
“These chants, as if turned towards a common magnet, originate from times and places far from each other: Ansârî is an Afghan Muslim mystic of the 11th century; Etty Hillesum is a young Dutch Jew who died in Auschwitz in 1943; the Castilian Thérèse d’Avila is one of the great Christian figures of the 16th century, both in her writings and in her foundations.
These three texts have also in common in their structure the idea of alternation: In Ansârî to search/to fly away, to remember/to forget, to find/to be found; in Hillesum death/life and in d’Avila You/Me. It is therefore the form of the poem that shapes the music. However music adds its own rays to the text by some tropes (parenthesis of instrumental comments by grafts from the words), by the rhythm of the poetical itinerary, by the balancing strength of alternate contraries; or by some striking words like foolishness in Ansârî, a great universal life in Hillesum and You- Me in d’Avila.” – Gilles Tremblay
Helen Pridmore enjoys a career focused on contemporary scored music, experimental music and improvisation. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in December 2012, performing the music of John Cage with the American Symphony Orchestra. Helen has performed as a soloist at the Sound Symposium, NL; the OK.Quoi?! Contemporary Arts Festival, Sackville, NB; with LeHum Moncton; and in Fredericton, Montréal, Toronto, Sudbury, Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton (New Music Edmonton), Calgary (Neworks Calgary), Vancouver (Western Front), Seattle (Wayward Music Series), and Victoria (Open Space). Helen’s solo CD Janet was released in 2012 on the Canadian Music Centre’s Centrediscs label. Her CD with clarinetist Wesley Ferreira …between the shore and the ships…, also a Centrediscs release, won an East Coast Music Award for Best Classical Recording in 2013.
With a special interest in new Canadian music, Helen has commissioned and premiered vocal works by Martin Arnold, Emily Doolittle, WL Altman, Helen Hall, and Ian Crutchley. She has premiered vocal music of Derek Charke, John Abram, Monica Pearce, André Cormier, Jim O’Leary and Robert Bauer; and has performed vocal works by composers from across Canada. Her 2018 solo recital at the Sound Symposium in Newfoundland featured an all-Canadian program. In the 2015-16 season, she premiered Goya: Opera, with music by WL Altman, libretto by David Fancy and live video by Ian Campbell, in Regina and in Mexico City.
Helen has also been a busy educator. She holds a B.Mus. from the University of Saskatchewan, a M.Mus. from the University of Toronto, and she earned her D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) at the Eastman School of Music. Helen also holds a Licentiate Diploma in Piano Performance from Trinity College, London (UK). After teaching at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick for 15 years, Helen moved to the University of Regina in 2014. There, she taught in the areas of music and creative technologies. Having taken early retirement from teaching in 2021, Helen now focuses on performing and creating. More information at www.helenpridmore.ca
Canadian pianist Roger Admiral performs solo and chamber music repertoire spanning the 18th through the 21st century. Known for his dedication to contemporary music, Roger has commissioned and premiered many new compositions. He works regularly with UltraViolet (New Music Edmonton) and Aventa Ensemble (Victoria), and performs as part of Kovalis Duo with Montreal percussionist Philip Hornsey. Roger also coaches contemporary chamber music at the University of Alberta.
Recent performances include Gyorgy Ligeti’s Piano Concerto with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra, the complete piano works of Iannis Xenakis for Vancouver New Music, a recital with baritone Nathan Berg at Lincoln Center’s Great Performers Series (New York City), and recitals for Curto-Circuito de Música Contemporânea Brazil with saxophonist Allison Balcetis, as well as solo recitals in Bratislava, Budapest, and Wroclaw. Roger can be heard on CD recordings of piano music by Howard Bashaw (Centrediscs) and Mark Hannesson (Wandelweiser Editions). In 2023 he will premiere Steven Takasugi’s Klavierkonzert with the SWR Symphonieorchester for the Donaueschingen Musiktage. More information at www.rogeradmiral.com
With a reputation for superb performance and ambitious programming, Aventa has established itself as one of Canada’s leading contemporary music ensembles. Comprised of musicians who are passionate about new music and its place in our culture, Aventa pushes musical boundaries through diverse projects, collaboration, and cultural exchange. https://aventa.ca/