- Year of composition: 2011-12
- Duration: 17:11
- Instrumentation: chamber orchestra and stereo fixed medium
- Publisher(s): Ymx média
- Commission: NEM, with support from the CALQ
- ISWC: T9091881399
- 48 kHz, 24 bits
“How we tell recent History is akin to a grand concert where all of Beethoven’s one hundred and eight opuses would be presented in sequence, though by performing only the first eight bars of each work. Were we to present the same concert again ten years later, only the first note of each piece would get played […] And twenty years down the line, all the music composed by Beethoven would be reduced to a single, long, high-pitched note similar to the infinite one he started hearing the day he became deaf.”
— Milan Kundera, La lenteur [Slowness] (1995)
“The idea is to show History as something continuous while History’s insubstantiality is becoming obvious.”
— Philippe Muray, Après l’Histoire (1999)
Everything gets archived nowadays, the good and the bad, we don’t even question this anymore. We have access to everything, from the most distant past to this day, and yet we seem to have lost the thread. We seem to be outside the continuity, in total disarray.
Calme chaos — the title comes from Sandro Veronesi’s novel Caos calmo [Quiet Chaos] (2005) — is a metaphorical exploration of that loss of meaning, that collective amnesia.
The work is articulated around two poles.
On the one side, chaotic writing consisting of a flurry of traits (more than a thousand) taken from the classical repertoire of each musician, segued without any logic, like decontextualized bits of information from the past, with occasional short encounters as if our memory was being jogged awake.
On the other side, the expression of the resilience of the wonderful musicians of the Nouvel ensemble moderne (NEM) who are hanging on to History, to signs from the past, in order to bring meaning to their backward march into the future, looking back in order to understand what is coming. The NEM’s musicians and their conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt welcomed my strange proposition with generosity and an open mind.
[English translation: François Couture, ii-22]
Calme chaos was realized and composed in 2011-12 at the composer’s studio in Montréal (Québec) and was premiered on May 2, 2012 by the Nouvel ensemble moderne (NEM), under the musical direction of Lorraine Vaillancourt, during the Concert du printemps at the Salle Claude-Champagne of the Université de Montréal. The piece was commissioned by the NEM with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ).
- 2011 – 2012, Personal studio, Montréal (Québec)
- May 2, 2012, Nouvel ensemble moderne (NEM); Yves Daoust, diffusion • Concert du printemps, Salle Claude-Champagne — Université de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)
About this sound recording
The present performance of Calme chaos was recorded at its concert premiere on May 2, 2012 and was subsequently mixed in December 2021 at the composer’s studio.
- Nouvel ensemble moderne (NEM) (Jocelyne Roy, flute; Normand Forget, oboe; Simon Aldrich, clarinet; Martin Carpentier, clarinet; Michel Bettez, bassoon; Lise Bouchard, trumpet; Jocelyn Veilleux, horn; Angelo Muñoz, trombone; Julien Grégoire, percussion; Jacques Drouin, piano; Lorraine Vaillancourt, piano; Alain Giguère, violin; Johanne Morin, violin; François Vallières, viola; Julie Trudeau, cello; Yannick Chênevert, double bass)
- 2012-05-02, Salle Claude-Champagne – Université de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)