First of all, it must be said that we are friends: 28 years ago we were frantically collaborating on our first “works.” We chose different paths afterwards, but we regularly helped out each other and our interest in making music together remains intact.
So we responded enthusiastically to a commission to create a collaborative work and to do so we light-heartedly cashed a first installment from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Our project? To compose a work inspired by Goethe’s Faust and to build it according to the very architecture of the poem. Quite a contract! A glance at our diaries should have been enough to bring us back to our senses, but we had already put the cogs in motion. It took us a few years to understand that the project would require much more time than expected, and a few more to admit that we would never make it to the end! Why? First, we are two remorseless maniacs and we just kept on (happily) tripping over every single crack this masterpiece laid down in front of us; second, life played its part, tossing us from crest to trough, each year bringing its load of surprises. It took Goethe more than 30 years to write his Faust. Should we sell our souls in order to meet the terms of our “Contract”?
We preferred to give ourselves a more realistic timeline (i.e. unbearably slow) and this snail pace allowed us to honor our common obligations seven years straight. However, the project changed along the way. Many chapters were dropped; others were combined. We took all kinds of liberties and even drew from other sources, since Faust’s tale has inspired many authors before us and we simply could not resist the urge to acknowledge them with a few nods. The chronology of the original poem also got defaced: in the end, the music determined the final sequence.
Along the way, we presented three unfinished versions: in November of 1999 at the Théâtre La Chapelle in Montréal as part of the concert Plein la vue presented by Réseaux; in March 2000 at the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France in Paris as part of a concert presented by the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM); and in May 2000 at the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV).
We could have spent thousands more hours on this project, because, let’s admit it, we grew fond of the slow pace, but everything must come to an end. And here’s the final version.
Clauses of Le contrat [The Contract]: • Composition and realization: Gilles Gobeil, René Lussier • Original idea, research, editing, spatialization, voice, noises, synthesis and sound transformation, travel reminiscences: Gilles Gobeil • Editing, guitars, daxophone, voice, noises, sensitive platform, luminous Achille, foot tapping, percussion: René Lussier • Text excerpts read by: Benoît Fauteux, Jean-Antonin Billard • Recording engineers: Gilles Gobeil, Pierre Léger, Claude Beaugrand, Martin M Messier, anonymous. • Mixing: Martin M Messier, Gilles Gobeil, René Lussier • Mastering: Denis Frenette, Studio 30, Société Radio-Canada • Illustration: Louis-Pierre Bougie • Production: empreintes DIGITALes
Le contrat was realized between 1996 and 2003 at the composers’ studios, mixed at Martin M Messier’s studio and premiered on 15 October 2003 as part of the Rien à voir (14) concert series presented by Réseaux at Espace GO in Montréal. It was commissioned by Jean-François Denis for empreintes DIGITALes with support from the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). Thanks to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel, Charles Gounod, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, René Clair, Herman Melville, Giovanni Papini, August Strindberg, Maxime Gorki, Martin M Messier, Paule Marier, Mario Rodrigue, Audrey Limoges-Gobeil, François Gauthier, Pierre Labbé, Réseaux des arts médiatiques, Michel Levasseur and the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM).
- October 15, 2003, Rien à voir (14): Associations libres, Espace Go, Montréal (Québec)
- 1996 – 2003, Personal studio, Montréal (Québec)
- 2003, Martin M Messier • Personal studio, Montréal (Québec)
- Les remparts [The Ramparts], 2:17
- La gageure [The Bet], 5:27
- Le chapelet [The Rosary], 2:58
- La nuit la plus longue [The Longest Night], 11:54
- La forêt [The Forest], 3:36
- Le cabinet d’étude [The Study], 6:11
- Rats et contrat [Rats and Contract], 3:28
- Le premier baiser [The First Kiss], 0:18
- L’amour pointe [Love Arises], 1:56
- Le lavoir [The Wash House], 3:09
- Le flagorneur [The Sycophant], 3:05
- La chambre de Marguerite [Marguerite’s Room], 2:43
- Le duel [The Duel], 2:59
- Les bijoux [The Jewels], 2:15
- La caverne [The Cavern], 1:37
- Le jardin [The Garden], 1:13
- Les chevaux noirs [The Black Horses], 0:54
- L’entremetteuse [The Go-between], 1:58
- La cathédrale [The Cathedral], 5:39
- L’écolier [The Schoolboy], 2:11