Professor of composition and analysis at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montreal, Michel Gonneville has written over 40 compositions to date. Among his more recent works, Le messager, written for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, was premiered last fall under Charles Dutoit. The Émile-Nelligan Foundation has awarded Michel Gonneville the Serge-Garant Prize for the quality of his work.
Composed in tandem with my writing for the Symphonie du Millénaire, Suivre la trace, perdre le fil is based on the same material, that of the Gregorian hymn Veni Creator. Four melodic phrases of eight notes are used; these adopt the approximate contour of the original four phrases of the hymn. For this quartet, symmetry governed the construction, and a structure based on the number four was therefore emphasized: 4 parts of 4 sections (or phrases) each; 4 types of polyphonic structures made up of independent layers; 4 tempos; 4 different lengths for the 4 phrases of each section; 4 densities of ornamentation for each of the 8 notes of a phrases, etc. Certain elements of these parameters are rearranged, others are presented in fixed order, therefore creating the impression of hearing something recognizable but different enough to ‘lose the thread’. Suivre la trace, perdre le fil is also a pleasure-piece: the enjoyment of construction doubled by the representation of the physical gestures of the four musicians of the quartet.
The string quartet… or the invading intimacy… I risk here a first contribution.