Le Baiser- 2008 18:00
(2*2*22 / 4231 / T / 2 Perc / Pno / Hrp / Strings)
Composed for and commissioned by the National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Premiere: February 18, 2009, National Arts Centre, Ottawa/Ontario, National Arts Centre Orchestra, David Lockington -Conductor
The music is partitioned into two main themes representing the man and the woman. When performed simultaneously, they form a harmonic progression that becomes a central idea in its own right. After an extended atmospheric introduction in which the core harmonies are eluded to, the bassoon introduces the man's theme, which is melancholy and lyric in nature. The more exotic and almost improvisational woman's theme follows in the oboe. In a way, I am not only trying to depict the characters of the story but also to explore archetypal narratives as realized by Rodin's sculptural interpretation. Thus, the man's melody embodies a desire for fulfillment, and the woman's fantasia-like theme refers to the illusive and complicated promise of that desire.
Several years ago, I attended an exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada featuring the works of renowned French sculptor Auguste Rodin I was immediately struck by his work. In particular, Le Baiser (The Kiss) had a particularly profound impact on me with its sense of proportion, and physical sensuality. The bodies are in perfect balance with each other, neither one dominating the other.
Le Baiser originally comes from Rodin's masterpiece La Porte de l'Enfer (Gates of Hell). Built as a large archway, it is comprised of several tableaux depicting episodes from Dante's Inferno. Le Baiser in particular tells the story of Francesca de Rimini and her adulterous affair with her husband's brother (Circle 2, Canto 5) . A tragedy for all, the jealous husband, while intruding on the lovers, kills them both - quickly for the brother at the sword, and slowly for Francesca as she is buried alive.