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Crossings (2011)

for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano

Instrumentation: flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano


Duration: 15 minutes


Program Notes:

The inspiration for this work came from the idea of wandering peoples; crossing into new territories and strange lands. My particular interest was that of French-speaking people first coming from France to North America (Quebec and other parts of Canada) in the 17th century and later on from Canada to the United States in the 19th and early 20th century since that represents my own family history. Of course, one might also just as well apply this to any migratory journey full of unexpected turns, trials and tribulations. The piece is not programmatic, but more reflective of states of mind, states of being. The whole work has its basis in a French-Canadian folk song entitled Quand j’ai parti du Canada (When I left Canada). This folk song is a simple, lyrical tune in the major mode and what attracted to me to it was its subtle use of mixing in the minor mode as well. This melody, played by the violin, does not appear until about halfway through the piece, but all of the contemporary materials heard before and after are variants derived from this main tune. The piece opens with fast, aggressive music, beginning with loudly accented and ornamented open 5ths and often returning to these open 5ths as a point of departure. The alternation of this fast, aggressive music with slower, more lyrical sections forms the structure of the work. The use of open strings in the violin and cello give the music a quasi folk-like sound from time to time, with even a short section of French-Canadian fiddle music at one point. But my idea with this work was not to simply arrange a folk tune, but to synthesize this into my own contemporary musical language.


-- Pierre Jalbert

© 2016 Pierre Jalbert, Crossings

Photo:  Julia Jalbert

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