Et je reverrai cette ville étrange (1981)

Claude Vivier

six musicians

Commission: Arraymusic with support from the Ontario Arts Council

Understanding that Vivier traveled to the better part of Europe and Asia makes it difficult not to think that the “strange city” must be an extremely exotic place. Still, it seems to have been none other than the Queen City of Toronto—home to the agency and ensemble that commissioned the work. The exoticism of this work is thus one located somewhat off the beaten path, that appears as “timeless” as Vivier found Balinese music.

This piece is based entirely on the working out of five melodies, constructed around Balinese instruments, and transferred to Western music making tools. Asian sound colours are found only in percussion instruments, but the essence of the East is hinted at in the other instruments by Vivier’s choice of melodic treatment. These are unaccompanied, and following the example of Balinese music, are repeated to create a sort of ritual that is quite common in the composer’s work.

Because the ritual is a search for purity, the composer’s words may lead one to believe that he considered his project quite successful, “It may be that I have reached the purest type of melodic form with Et je reverrai cette ville étrange.”

Jointly commissioned by the Arraymusic ensemble and the Ontario Arts Council.

Martine Rhéaume [viii-07]

Performances