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Symphony / Une Symphonie canadienne (Symphony no. 2)
"This is the
first time I’ve tried to compose music that was heavily descriptive. It
five movements, each one representing a region of the country as I came
it – either through visits or from pictures and film. I hope it renders
the love I feel for my homeland. I honestly believe that no art can
come close to describing the profound beauty of this vast country, and
I only humbly offer this symphony as an expression of my own love for
Canada - a land of such varied colours and moods that an artist can not
help but be inspired by its beauty.
Inspired by a stop-over near Mount Apica in the Laurentian National Park and by memories of driving through northern Ontario on a cross-Canada road trip, this movement tries to express the depth and warmth of the great northern forests that stretch across so much of northern Québec and Ontario. Horn and trumpet fanfares present the opening of the symphony, and a stately main theme is played by the violas and celli. Gradually the rest of the orchestra joins in. A lone clarinet, lost in the woods, sings the second theme over gently swaying strings, harp, and gentle chirping from the flute. The development section follows, with thematic material – both lyrical and fanfare – making the rounds of the different sections of the orchestra, before the main theme returns one last time in an orchestral tutti.
“Prairies” (Dawn, The Harvesters, Sunset)
muted strings rock back and forth, as a cor-anglais solo gently
sunrise with a plaintif melody. Wheat fields ripple like the ocean as
the eye can see and reflect the fresh new sunlight. The gold and green
vastness of the
is just a hint of eternity. In the distance, harvesting machinery
coming gradually closer, getting louder and louder, and passes us by.
passes overhead and sets, melting into the endless horizon, and dusk
twinkle of stars and one more glimpse of eternity as the sky seems to
“Maritimes" (Waves and shoreline)
strings and flurries of woodwinds and brass see us flying over the
waves as we approach each Maritime province in turn. Motifs built from
music associated with each region accompany each stop-over (Insula
Beata "The Island Hymn", Farewell to Nova Scotia, Ode To Newfoundland,
Ave Maris Stella, and fragments of O Canada) in a whirlwind rondo. I
tried to capture what I felt was the vibrant and varied personality of
4 – “Pacific Interlude” (Mist
Gently swaying strings create a mist, out of which gradually emerges bird calls and distant winds. As the mist clears, at first from afar, and then ever closer, the majestic the Rocky Mountains break through and dominate the sky.
5 – “Northern Variations”
A boisterous rhythmic theme leads into a series of variations: