O.C., C.Q., O.M.
Angèle Dubeau has pursued a career as a classical musician for over 45 years and has played in as many countries, always with the same passion, zest and generosity. [...]
This recording is dedicated to our own Quebec composers. These composers have always been a part of my musical universe. Together with my friend, Louise-Andrée Baril, I have chosen to offer you works composed for my instrument. Above all, however, these are works that I love, and that was the only criterion that guided me in my choice of pieces for this recording, of which I am very proud.
Join me in this voyage through time, from the very first works written for violin at the turn of the century, to our own era. It is a journey through our own music, one filled with emotion, and in our own image, one that serves as an unending source of spirit, vitality and beauty.
Claude Champagne, composer, matched the cadence of his own country; his style, highly individual, sought out and embodied the mysterious relationship that links nature to the imagination. A year before the composer’s death, in Montreal on December 21, 1965, the Association des professeurs des Conservatoires du Québec organized a retrospective of his symphonic works to coincide with the inauguration of the Salle Claude-Champagne, a concert hall built as an addition to the École Vincent d’Indy, the premises of which are now occupied by the music faculty of the Université de Montréal. Claude Champagne’s influence as a professor of theory and composition gave him the stature of a leading figure who contributed greatly to the training of many of our finest composers.
There is no doubt that the works and personality of Claude Champagne left a profound mark on three decades of musical history in Quebec and Canada.
“He has Mozart’s genius.” That is what the local critics, as well as the Parisian press, had to say after hearing the young Canadian pianist-composer in recital. At the age of three, he already showed great talent for the piano. His father, Rodolphe Mathieu, president of the Institut canadien de la musique, was his first teacher. By the age of four, he was composing works inspired by the observations of a very young man, Les Abeilles piquantes (stinging bees), Les Gros chars (the big wagons) and La Libellule (the dragonfly). He was only six whien, in 1935, he gave his first recital at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. To the delight of everyone, this youngster, playing without pretension and indeed with naïvety, left his audience charmed and filled with admiration and emotion.
In Paris, his father entrusted him to Yves Nat, a professor at the Conservatoire, to Madame Giraud Latarse, first assistant to Alfred Cortot, and to Jacques de la Presle, a Grand prix de Rome recipient. Émile Vuillermoz wrote in the Excelsior, “I do not know if the young André Mathieu will become a great musician like Mozart , but I know that at the same age, Mozart had not yet written anything comparable.” After three years of study in Paris, André Mathieu returned to Canada.
Guest artist at the Town Hall in New York in 1940, Mathieu caused critics to be once again ecstatic. “Talent, prodigy, genius” were the words used to describe the young pianist-composer. Five concerts in Montreal followed, along with three in Ottawa and a guest performance with the Lasalle Symphony of Ottawa. Upon his return to Canada, he undertook an ambitious concert tour in Quebec and Ontario. Triumph and standing ovations greeted him everywhere. André Mathieu played in Montreal under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham and Désiré Defauw, and in New York under the direction of Rudolf Ganz and Leon Barzin.
Jean Papineau-Couture was born on November 12, 1916 in Outremont, Quebec. After initially studying music in Montreal, he went on to complete, in 1941, a bachelor’s degree in composition a the New England Conservatory of Music. While in the United States, he furthered his studies with Nadia Boulanger and met Stravinsky several times. Returning to Quebec in 1945, he taught at the Conservatoire de musique in Montreal before joining the Faculty of Music at the Université de Montréal, where he became professor, assistant dean and finally dean. He was the founding president of the Société de musique contemporiane du Québec (SMCQ) and he always championed the cause of Canadian music.
His style evolved gradually from polymodal and polytonal neo-classicism to atonal chromaticism, with an emphasis on sound colour. Metrical freedom and rhythmic drive subtly lend themselves to the development of well-characterized melodic material. Jean Papineau-Couture has been honoured many times for his work. He has been awarded the Order of Canada’s Medal of Service, the Canadian Music Council Medal, the Prix Denise-Pelletier, the title Grand Officer of the Order of Quebec and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.
Born in 1934, André Prévost is a native of Hawkesbury, Ontario. Prévost studied for nine years at the Conservatoire de musique in Montreal, where he studied composition with Clermont Pépin and writing techniques with Jean Papineau-Couture and Isabelle Delorme. In 1960, he obtained a first prize in composition from the Conservatoire and then went on to further his studies in Paris with the help of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Quebec. This led him to work with Messiaen and Dutilleux.
He returned to Montreal in 1962, and won the Prix d’Europe the following year. Two years later, he returned to Paris to study electroacoustic music with Michel Philoppot. The following summer was spent at the Berkshire Music Center in Tangle wood, Massachusetts, where he worked with Copland, Kodály, Schuller and Carter. Upon his return to Canada, Prévost became a professor at the faculty of music at the Université de Montréal. A tenured professor for many years, he teaches composition and analysis.
The success of works such as Pyknon, the test piece at the Montreal International Competition for Violin in 1966, and Fantasmes, a symphonic work recorded by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in 1963, led Prévost to create his most ambitious work, Terre des Hommes. This work for double orchestra, three choirs and two narrators, based on a poem by Michèle Lalonde, was chosen to inaugurate the Expo 67 World Fair. His Cantate pour cordes (1987) was the result of a commission at the personal request of sir Yehudi Menuhin, marking the first time that this great musician had commissioned a work by a Quebec composer.
Jacques Hétu was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, on August 8, 1938. In 1956 he was accepted at the Conservatoire de musique in Montreal where he studied composition with Clermont Pépin. He completed his studies at the Conservatoire in 1961, winning prizes in harmony, counterpoint and composition. In the same year he won the composition prize of the Festival du Québec, the prestigious Prix d’Europe as well as a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. From 1961 to 1963 he studied with Henri Dutilleux at the École Normale de Musique in Paris and took Olivier Messiaen ‘s class in analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris.
Hétu gives priority to poetry, emotion and to coherent discourse; he is also sensitive to the plastic aspects of sonority and the structural rigour of his contemporaries. Within traditional forms, he arranges elements in a cyclical manner based on the affirmative force of the thematic material, rigorous writing and the requirement for unity.
Born in Ottawa in 1943, François Dompierre studied piano and organ in his hometown before coming to Montreal to study at the Conservatoire de musique. There, he studied composition with Clermont Pépin from 1958 to 1963. From 1963 to 1977, as an arranger, producer, conductor and composer, he worked on more than 50 recordings with many of Quebec’s leading stars, such as Félix Leclerc, Pauline Julien, Renée Claude, Claude Gauthier and Monique Leyrac.
Between 1976 and 1978, he wrote a concerto for piano and orchestra and another for harmonica and orchestra, called Harmonica Flash, two works which were recorded in Montreal’s Salle Claude-Champagne for the Deutsche Grammophon label. The performers were the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, under Charles Dutoit, pianist Édith Boivin-Béluse and harmonicist Claude Garden. It was the first Quebec composition to be recorded on the prestigious label. In 1980, he won Félix Awards for best arranger and for the best classical instrumental recording for Harmonica Flash.
François Dompierre has also written a sonata for ondes Martenot and piano, a test piece for the 1979 Montreal International Competition called Les Diableries (for violin and orchestra) as well as a concerto for violin and orchestra written for Angèle Dubeau and premièred at Expo 86 with the Vancouver Symphony under his own direction.
Rachel Laurin was born in 1961, in the village of Saint-Benoît, Quebec. She started studying the organ at the Montreal Conservatory of Music in 1980. She received a very thorough musical training in keyboard harmony, interpretation and improvisation with Raymond Daveluy. She was also a piano pupil of Raoul Sosa and a member of Nick Ayoub’s jazz ensemble. Her brilliant career as an organist and improviser has led her to be heard in concert and in radio broadcasts in Canada, the United States and in many European countries.
Also known as a composer, Rachel Laurin studied composition with Raymond Daveluy from 1980 to 1986. Her many organ, piano, vocal, and chamber works have been performed in concert and on broadcasts both at home and abroad. In addition to her organ works published by the French firm Europart-Music, several of her other works have been published and released on disc. Rachel Laurin is a founding member of the Mélodistes Indépendants, a group of composers promoting music both modern and accessible.
Rachel Laurin taught organ improvisation at the Montreal Conservatory of Music from 1988 to 1992, a discipline she also teaches regularly at the Épinal Summer School.
Her skill as an organist, improviser and composer has often been acknowledged by the Conrad-Letendre bursary. She holds the posts of organist at the crypt and assistant organist of the great organ at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.
© Angèle Dubeau
Translation: Patricia Abbott