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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 7

Hubert Reeves : Autoportrait

April 26, 2004

Version française...

Concert halls are my churches. I've been lucky enough to take part in the "Mozart and the Stars" concerts, where music is performed against a backdrop of beautiful photographs of distant galaxies. In Trois-Rivières I appeared in a concert that featured Holst's The Planets plus three works by Quebec composers: The Sun by Gilles Bellemare, The Earth by François Morel, and Pluto by Denis Dion (this last planet of the solar system was unknown at the time Holst composed his planet cycle). Being part of this kind of production gives me the heady sensation of performing music without actually being a musician.

Frankly, I don't see any real analogy between musical composition and scientific research. The language of science tends to be simple and clear; ideally, words must have only one meaning. In music, however, language is extremely rich and focuses mainly on emotions. Unlike science, music isn't primarily dealing with reason. Of course, there is form in music, an architecture that our reason can comprehend. But the same architecture used by two composers creates very different results.

Music is the essential complement to the development of my books. When writing Patience dans l'azur, I listened continually to Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. The breadth of this work gave me the energy I needed. For Malicorne, it was Wagner's Tannhäuser that guided me.

My first musical memory was naturally linked to my mother. I remember, when my eyes reached the level of the piano keyboard, watching her hands playing Beethoven's Appassionata sonata. I studied piano for a few years, then stopped. I regret it. If I'm allowed a second life, I'll study the cello. To play the cello as part of a Schubert quartet is my dream!

Chamber music and the instrumental music of opera are my favourite categories, rather than the symphonic repertoire. Getting to know a composer's œuvre requires time. I like to proceed systematically, exploring a work, reading, getting the subject under my belt. This is how I worked with Wagner, Strauss, or Mahler, but also with living composers like Dusapin, Boulez, Pärt, or Gilles Tremblay.

Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Bach--my list of preferences is very representative of what's called "classical." On the other hand, I'm not a fan of Renaissance or Baroque music. It's an opinion... I adore Italian opera; Puccini and Verdi thrill me. I listen to many recordings, but some are permanently on my desktop; for example, the Schubert piano sonatas played by Alfred Brendel, one of my favourite performers. Recently I discovered the marvellous Hélène Grimaud in Beethoven's Fantasia for Piano, Orchestra, and Choir.

Hubert Reeves gives conference on music and astronomy

  • Sunday, May 2, 4:30 p.m.
  • Tickets : $20
  • Salle Claude-Champagne, Université de Montréal (514) 343-6427

Version française...

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