Hailed as a “hero” (Los Angeles Times), a “smashing” performer (Washington Post), “a pianist who breaks the mold” (International Piano) and “who stands out from the typical trends and artifices offered [...]
They spoke about it
Here is a further chapter in my Carnet de notes (Notebook), which I call Fidèles Insomnies. In spite of being to blame for the shipwreck of my nights, these insomnias have all been forgiven; for they have given life to numerous themes that were locked in my brain, only requiring the quietude of sleep to surface and awaken me to their music. Those of you already familiar with my earlier recordings will recognize Lylatov and Un Ange passe, two pieces that were part of my first disk of original works, Lylatov; they are presented here in a piano and strings rendition. The 3 preludes Petite mère, Vingt ans and La Callas were created on special commission for the Megaron (Athens Concert Hall) and were premiered at my recital in that prestigious Athens venue on November 24th, 2005, within the context of the Grands Interprètes series.
Comme en famille!
Rather than blood relationships, I tend to favour elective affinities, where an imperishable brotherhood – miraculous outcome of certain friendships – might very well unite erstwhile strangers for life and unto death, bringing them to the table together as family, as it were comme en famille. I offer to you this whirlpool of joy, this lightness of being, this celebration of life, written on an old upright piano to amuse the children of some very dear friends, one warm summer weekend in the country, between refreshing dips in Echo Lake and delicious wood-smoked hot dogs!
For my dear friends Françoise and Paul and their brood, Christine, Hubert and Charles Julien.
Although Petite mère was a commission of the Megaron of Athens, it was conceived and evolved in the depths of my own heart, for Love cannot be commissioned, especially not the love of a son for his mother. My mother never heard Petite mère, except as words muttered softly in her presence, while she was relinquishing her life to the cancer that took her from me before I could finish writing the piece she had inspired… My anguish at the thought of losing her had even kept me then from showing her the work in progress, since I feared, ironically, that playing it to her would precipitate her departure to the other side of the looking glass…
For my “petite mère”, Thérèse Lefèvre.
Forever shining astral body, the light of La Callas will never falter in the Pantheon of Stars. Her radiance never dims, even in death and in spite of her dark destiny, for the Diva had the Secret Flame – that inner light that radiates sentiment and provokes shivers, emotions and upheavals of the soul, that quality that sets the true artist apart from the art technicians or the impostors. In strength as in fragility, both empress and deceived wife, Maria Callas gave us her all, inhabiting the stage as fully as she did her own life, obliterating her tomorrows by living solely in the moment.
For Christos D. Lambrakis, a prince of music.
Anemos (the Wind), follows Ilios (the Sun) and Thalassa ( the Sea) – these two last pieces having previously been heard on Lylatov and Carnet de notes, respectively – and completes the trilogy Impressions Hélléniques.
Anemos is firstly a timid rustling of the Grecian wind through the dishevelled boughs of olive trees, turning them from green to silver with its hot breath. Then comes an unforgettable memory of my visit to the Temple of Sounio – spectacular presence of an opened-skied past – dominating the cliffs, the sea, and Man himself, and through millennia holding fast against the repeated assaults of pitiless winds. Never will I forget this powerful and sublime sensation, as if intoxicated from too much air, where, for the time it takes for the sun to plunge into the sea, I became one with these ancestral stones, standing mute to the rape of the wind, and yet victorious by their everlastingness.
For my great friends, Dominique, Alexandrine and Gabriel Petridis.
This piece I wrote as a present to my Jojo for our 20th wedding anniversary; it completes the 3 Préludes cycle, which was premiered at the Megaron in Athens on November 24th, 2005.
For Johanne Martineau, my muse, my accomplice of more than twenty years.
Paris sans toi
I was nineteen years old when I met my Jojo. A few days from the end of that summer, I was off to Paris, where I was to further my piano studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique, leaving her behind. Her daily absence from my life in the City of Lights was often intolerable. I was sustained by her numerous letters – more than a hundred of them in less than nine months – that soothed my melancholy and brought me the inspiration for Paris sans toi.
For Johanne Martineau and our beginnings.
At seventeen, I left Montréal to pursue my piano studies at the CNSM in Paris. I was living in a constricted maid’s room, with just enough space to stand between my bed and my upright piano. Some friends of my parents, Ginette Levy and Kito Barouch, upon noticing my predicament, opened their hearts and their home to me and treated me as a true son. I composed Lylatov (which means “Good night” in Hebrew) for these survivors of World War II, in tribute and heartfelt gratitude for all that they were for me.
For Ginette Levy and Kito Barouch.
Un ange passe
Two days before I was to give a concert at Place des Arts with Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, I was awakened at 4 in the morning to learn of my father’s death in France from a cancer that I thought he had beaten… I was devastated and could not bring myself to accept that he was gone; I hadn’t even had the opportunity to say goodbye. I fell back asleep, awash in my grief. “The Dead are dead and gone” – my father had been taken from me before I could even tell him all my love… I awoke to a sense of unreality, as in a nightmare, but I then felt Papa by my side, like an angel passing… I went to the piano and poured out all my sorrow and despair into this final Adieu, which I dedicate to his memory.
For my dad, André Lefèvre.
This piece was adapted as a song, whose world premiere was given at the Théâtre Outremont by the extraordinary young singer Hugo, in the context of the 2004 edition of the Montreal HighLight Festival. Here are a few excerpts: “She left without a sound, she who had opened her flesh to my life, who had loved me before ever knowing me, who had carried me from morning till noon till night, never once complaining. Maman, I didn’t even have time for a last Adieu. Forgive me; you are now a sparrow and I am an orphan, and our destinies have parted. I extinguish the moon, I close out the day, I listen to your death lament my sorrow. Oh, but I wasn’t ready to lose you so soon, vacant eyes, cold, inanimate body – It can’t be true!”
For my wonderful friends, Martha, Daniel and their children, Sophie-Anne, Philippe and Antoine Vachon.
Au bout de mes rêves
This piece also became a song, sung in its world première at the Théâtre Outremont by the moving Léane Labrèche Dor, in the context of the 2004 edition of the Montreal HighLight Festival. A few excerpts: “I want to see Australia’s every grey koala and evolve in a world where I don’t have to fear the bombs… Turn off your TV sets, sleepwatchers! Please awaken and sow a little Peace… For I want to believe, without having always to dream, to dream…”
To the sweet memory of a wonderful woman, Fabienne Dor.
© Alain Lefèvre