Les ruines du Paradis (2004)

Serge Provost

piccolo, flute in G, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, piano, percussion, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass

Cendres / Nostalgia / Appassionato / Ticha dolina (paisible vallée) / Rêves / Con forza / Notturno/ Mouvements / Hymne

In the summer of 2000, the Russian pavilion at the 7th International Architecture Exhibition (part of the Venice Biennial) hosted an exhibition called “Le Rovine del Paradiso”, a title I later adopted for the present work. The show included a series of architectural drawings, often of a fanciful nature, projections of grandiose cities in the clouds. There were also photographs of ruins of palaces, churches, and cities devastated by war, juxtaposed to contemporary State photos of places like Moscow and Petrograd, industrial metropolises, etc.: hence architecture as a type of utopia, and as social critique. Utopias-Paradises-Ruins—dream world turned devastation, and over again. Thoughts raised by this experience eventually transformed into sonic ideas, the world is also a form of utopia, or dream-state, which is also the vessel for the expression of the world, and of the self in this world. Paradise? Hell? Wars… Hope… Peace…?

This work opens with a brief introduction that is serious in character, and gives way to a series of twenty-five developing variations based on a group of twenty-five notes. At first, these variations last only a few seconds, gradually increasing until the last, which is four minutes in length. These are not thematic variations, but developments of a sonic entity, with all of its transformational potential—a series of anamorphoses. These twenty-five fundamental units are grouped together to form nine sections, with sub-titles that I assigned when the work as a whole was completed, as a means of underscoring the respective dramatic character of each segment.

  • Recording: available at SMCQ’s office