Chamber Music Composition | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Chamber Music Composition

Chamber music composition. The term applies to works for from 2 to about 12 parts, intended for one performer per part.
The term applies to works for from 2 to about 12 parts, intended for one performer per part. Its older implications, of leisure music-making for the delight of performers and a few cultivated listeners, may be largely anachronistic, but chamber music in that sense may be exemplified in Canadian cities starting in the mid-18th century. However, from early mentions, such activities fostered European chamber-music literature rather than adding to it. The creative musicians of the late-18th to late-19th centuries contributed rather to other forms - concert-hall music, parlour music, church music, theatre music, parade-ground music. There is no known early-Canadian counterpart to Johann Friedrich Peter, the gifted 18th-century Pennsylvanian composer of string quintets.

If chamber-music composition was slow to emerge, its first Canadian manifestations, in the early decades of the 20th century, align with a decidedly conservative view of the genre. The composers seem intent on preservation of classical ideals, maintaining an 'academic' interpretation of Mozart and Beethoven comparable to that found in the works of Daniel Gregory Mason in the USA, the Cobbett movement in England, and the Schola Cantorum circle in France. Contant's Trio (1907), MacMillan's String Quartet (1914), and the Quartet (1920) and the Trio (1921-2) of Rodolphe Mathieu, may be classed legitimately as 'academic,' not in a pejorative sense but rather because of the reasoned and idealized view of classical chamber-music forms which they represent.

Thus the MacMillan work is notable for its busy textures and its confidently handled four-movement form, including a neat, classically shaped scherzo and a weighty slow introduction to the vigorous finale. However, Mathieu's Trio reveals symptoms of a less orthodox approach: the three movements bear titles ('Discussion,' 'Reflection,' 'Pantomime') and, despite the conventional textures, one finds frequent dramatic relationships of the three instruments, and tension stemming from unusually harsh dissonances is often left unresolved. The titles and the deliberate maintenance of dissonant tension are both qualities which link Mathieu in a curious way more with an independent New-World figure, Ives, than with his composition teacher, d'Indy.

In 1989 performance and publication of the Trio, Opus 11 by Edward Betts Manning brought to light a neglected turn-of-the-century work with striking thematic ideas and a well-realized three-movement structure conforming to models such as Brahms and Dvořák.

These early-20th-century works have been revived and in some cases recorded, and they form an interesting basis of the Canadian chamber-music literature. While they were not the only examples produced before the 1930s, the catalogue is admittedly sparse. Lavallée is thought to have composed two string quartets and a trio, and J. P. Clarke 'a number of chamber trios and quartettes' but the scores have not survived. A like fate befell George F. Graham's Piano Quintet in F, played in Toronto in 1858, and A.E. Fisher's String Trio, reportedly performed there in 1888. Dessane's Fantasia-Sonata for flute and string quintet of 1858 survives and has been revived in modern times. Couture and W.O. Forsyth showed little interest in chamber music beyond an early string quartet each; Lucas none at all. It should be added that the Couture, called Quatuor-fugue, was published in Paris in 1875 and performed there in 1876. Von Kunits, the composer-violinist, and Leo Smith, the composer-cellist, each produced a few pieces: von Kunits' early String Quartet (1890), written before he emigrated to Canada, has proved its charming qualities in revival, while Smith's Quartet in D (1932) is the largest item in a fair-sized list of original works and arrangements. (Reprints of the MacMillan, Contant, Mathieu, Maning, Couture, von Kunits, and Smith works mentioned above are available in CMH volumes.)

The experience of Willan seems typical for the period. Chamber music forms a minor part of his output. He confided to students how hard he found the string-quartet medium and never completed a work in this form, though several fragments exist. (F.R.C. Clarke's reconstruction of one of these, an Introduction and Allegro, received a first performance in 1984.) The Trio in B Minor (1907), written before his emigration to Canada, formed part of a full program of his music given in Toronto in 1916. The E.W. Beatty(see CPR Festivals) and CPRS prizes of the late 1920s and 1930s often drew attention to new compositions for chamber groups, suggesting a slow but noticeable growth in that period (see also Leo Smith's reviews of new scores in the Canadian Review of Music and Art in the early 1940s). That was the heyday of the Hart House String Quartet; its repertoire included only a few samples of new music (quartets by Bloch, Honegger, Schoenberg's First, Bartók's First, works by English contemporaries such as Bax, Delius, and Goossens) and none by Canadian composers beyond such brief, light pieces as MacMillan's Two Sketches (1927) and similar folk-music derivations.

Mathieu's return to a large chamber-music form in his Piano Quintet (1942) is marked by originality and seriousness. The work is a strongly sustained abstract design whose two movements are integrated through cyclic thematic relationships. A parallel to this example of special, isolated integrity in the Canadian chamber-music repertoire may be found in one of the late works of Claude Champagne: his String Quartet (1956) incorporated surprising, even daring, reflections of his awareness of such 20th-century figures as Schoenberg and Messiaen. It may be regarded as a turning point towards the modernism of Champagne's last compositions. It is notable that for Champagne (a violinist by training) this turning point should take the form of a venture into the time-honoured chamber-music medium of the string quartet.

The newer composing personalities, the young professionals of the 1940s, used chamber-music media in their early works by habit - a distinctly new phenomenon. Exceptions were those closest to Willan - Fleming and Ridout, for example - who, like their mentor, seemingly gave little priority to the genre. Others not only contributed to the standard media - string quartet, woodwind quintet - but went beyond them to discover novel instrumental groupings and mixtures of sounds (such as percussion) seldom found in traditional chamber-music scores.

If those standard media took on new life and new guises in this period, such external factors as the growth of radio broadcasting (for which chamber music was a natural and handy form) and the rise of more permanent professional playing ensembles may be cited as possible reasons. The following is a brief survey of the Canadian string trio, string quartet, piano trio, piano quartet, and woodwind quintet repertoires:

String Quartet

The production of new string quartets is considerable on the part of leading Canadian composers of recent times. A study by Robin Elliott (1990) cites 370 works for this medium produced by Canadians 1875-1990; judging from this source and the Canadian Music Centre acquisitions lists, about 65 quartet compositions belong to the decade 1980-90. One can enumerate Fodi and Weisgarber each with six quartets; Morawetz, Pentland, Pépin, and Schafer each with five; Buczynski and Wilson each with four; Cherney, Coulthard, Alain Gagnon, Prévost, Somers, Turner, and Weinzweig each with three; and Archer, Brott, Chan, Ford, Freedman, Morel, and Papineau-Couture each with two, to note only a few of the more prominent names. Morawetz' Second Quartet (1953-4) sets a model of conservative and thoughtful chamber-music discourse. In the Quartet (1956) of Otto Joachim, a new appreciation of sonority and a more explosive musical expression become apparent; significantly, the work was introduced by the Montreal String Quartet, of which Joachim was the violist. An unusual contribution to the repertoire, in terms of style, is the highly contrapuntal Quartet (1953-5) of Glenn Gould, its long one-movement structure evidently suggested by Schoenberg's Quartet No. 1, its idiom (the composer said) by the string quintet of Bruckner.

Elegiac and prayerful feelings, for which the string-quartet sound often has provided a vehicle, mark works as different as Pentland's Quartet No. 2 (1953), Weinzweig's Quartet No. 3 (1962), and Prévost's Quartet No. 2 (1972, subtitled Ad pacem). Weinzweig's composition is notable further for the variety it extracts from predominantly slow tempi in three of its five movements. Somers' dynamic Quartet No. 3 (1959), in one movement, is based on material from his short opera The Fool. William Douglas' Quartet (1968) is a concise and unusually showy rhythmic study.

Cherney's Second Quartet (1970) employs theatrical action, silent gesturing, and quotations from other music, and Freedman's Graphic II (1972) and Beckwith's Quartet (1977) both employ altered tunings for particular open-string and natural-harmonic effects; the former introduces, as the title suggests, new graphic forms of notation, as well as humming, recitation of texts to given rhythms, and shouting by the players, while the latter evokes traditional string-instrument sonorities of Canada, especially fiddle music, in the course of an abstract variational structure. Schafer's Second Quartet (1976) is subtitled Waves, and as an integral feature of its musical structure (rather than purely 'programmatically') it employs rhythmic recurrences actually found in ocean waves measured by the composer.

Of works composed in the 1980s, Pentland's Fourth Quartet and Prévost's Third Quartet represent major new statements in the genre by two seasoned artists, the former notable for its microtonal touches (also found in Schafer's String Quartet No. 3) and one strong passage evoking Native chant, and the latter for its recurrent droning dissonances and the originality of its eight-section form. Freedman's Blue (Quartet No. 2, 1980) borrowed some turns of phrase from pop music, while Colgrass in Folklines (1987) made a 'counterpoint of musics,' treating folksong materials in various styles for 'an interplay of cultures'. Chan's Second Quartet (1981) discovered attractive timbral freshness in the quartet medium; Théberge provided a set of useful brief pieces introducing student players to new-music idioms in his Etudes and Concert Sketch (1981); Rea's Some Time Later (1986) examined the possibilities of electric (RAAD) instruments; and Somers, Hawkins, Allan Bell, and Mozetich wrote short test pieces for the Banff International String Quartet Competitions, incidentally enriching the repertoire with interesting new challenges.

Piano Trio, Piano Quartet, String Trio

Though the medium of violin, cello, and piano is an uneven and acoustically awkward one, its traditional attraction for composers continues in Canada, as elsewhere. However, in the later 20th century it is a less obligatory staple for composers of chamber music than it was a couple of generations previously. The later additions to be set alongside the works by Contant, Manning, Mathieu, Willan, and others already noted are the trios by Anhalt, Archer, Buczynski, Coulthard, Eckhardt-Gramatté, Pentland, Pépin, Perrault, and Turner.

The piano quartets of Pentland (1939), Eggleston (1954-5), Coulthard (Sketches from a Medieval Town, 1956), and Kenins (1958), together with Kasemets' Sonata concertante (1957), are notable additions to repertoire for piano with string trio. For string trio alone, special importance in their respective composers' outputs attaches to three unusually advanced works: the Trio con Alea (1966), first of Pentland's several forays into limited aleatory, Papineau-Couture's Slano (1975), with its consistent sharp dissonances, its lively counterpoint, and its wide range of timbral contrasts, and Cherney's prize-winning String Trio (1976).

To the above, newer works for piano trio by Burke (1985), Bell (Innua, 1987), and Pépin (Suite, 1989); for piano quartet by Buczynski (1984) and Lauber (1989); and for piano quintet by Pentland (1983), Buczynski (1984), Southam (1986), and Louie (Music from Night's Edge, 1988) may be added.

Woodwind Quintet

The 1960s and 1970s were remarkable for the increased cultivation of this medium, spurred perhaps by the presence of a number of Canadian professional and student groups for whom it became a specialty. Weinzweig's three-movement Quintet (1964) sums up in dry and neatly poised fashion the rhythmic and constructional concerns found in his earlier divertimenti and sonatas; it has been much played. Among other quintets are those by Adaskin, Dela (Petite Suite maritime), Buczynski, Fiala, Freedman, Hawkins, Hétu, Mather (Eine kleine Bläsermusik), Papineau-Couture (Fantaisie), and Weisgarber. The Mather work is inventive in the timbral changes of its opening unisons, and its final section includes two passages in which the instruments are both unmetred and unco-ordinated. The chorale-like conclusion of Hawkins' rhythmically complex Quintet (1977) corresponds somewhat to the solemn tonal fragments at the end of Cherney's Notturno (1974, woodwind quintet with piano). In the latter, all performers are called on to double on percussion instruments and to produce humming and whispering sounds at times; three of the wind players also switch to alternative instruments now and then. In the same composer's Group Portrait with Piano (1979) the piano is a stage property only, played into, but not upon, by the quintet members, who, in period costume, end by posing for a photograph against the piano, to a lengthy Schubert quotation. Similar in technique, though not in attitude, is Saint-Marcoux's Genesis (1975), calling for widespread spatial separation of the players, improvised sections scored in chart form, and auxiliary vocal and percussion sounds produced by the quintet.

From the 1980s, less productive in this medium, works by Malcolm Forsyth (1986) and Komorous (Fumon manga, 1981, rev 1985) should be noted.

Derivative of the standard groupings are instrumentations which add to or subtract from the quartet or quintet base. Thus Brott's Critics' Corner (1950) adds percussion to the string quartet, Gellman's Mythos II (1968) a flute, Pentland's Interplay (1972) an accordion, Kolinski's Encounterpoint (1973) an organ, Adaskin's Quintet (1977) a bassoon, and Bellemare's Osmose (1978) a bass trombone. Thus also a rare chamber-music excursion by Ridout, his Introduction and Allegro (1968), joins a violin and a cello to the standard woodwind quintet; the ideas and their treatment in fact suggest a miniature orchestra. Subtraction (ie, using fewer than the standard 4 or 5 parts), of which the string trios noted above are examples, may be found also in variously grouped woodwind trios - two by Pedersen and one each by Archer (Divertimento), Michael Conway Baker (Five Epigrams), and Michael Miller (In-Talk).

A large number of works in the 1980s combine one instrument with a quartet or trio of strings. Examples are Luedeke's The Moon in the Labyrinth (1984) and Schafer's Theseus (1988), both with harp, and works with clarinet by Weisgarber, Prévost, Chan, and Rosen. Rosen's Sonder le dernier (1988) features an especially showy clarinet part and a finale with indeterminate stopping-points for each performer.

Brass quintets as self-sufficient chamber-music statements are a relatively new phenomenon, separate from the functional ceremony-music for a handful of brass players epitomized in Applebaum's Stratford Festival fanfares (surely the most frequently heard in live performance of any ensemble music in the country). The ceremonial and processional associations of brass are retained to some extent in Beckwith's Taking a Stand (1972), for 'five players, eight brass instruments, fourteen music stands, and one platform,' and both this work and Weinzweig's Pieces of Five (1976, 'a series of short-long, fast-slow, soft-loud actions') incorporate inflections familiar from jazz playing. The brass quintets of Fleming, Freedman (Five Rings), Gellman, Hiscott (Altiplano), Morel, Mozetich (As the World Turns), Pentland (Occasions), Rathburn (The Nomadic Five), and Keith Tedman (Fire and Ice) also may be noted.

In the 1960s and 1970s Canadian composers paid markedly greater attention to 'odd' or special groupings in their one-to-a-part instrumental ensembles - in the modern tradition associated with Stravinsky's Octet for Winds, Webern's Concerto, Opus 24, or, more pertinently, postwar European pieces such as Boulez' Le Marteau sans maître and Berio's Circles. Rather than deriving from the fixed 18th- and 19th-century ensembles, the resultant works aimed to create new statements beginning with the choice of a perhaps unique instrumentation.

Some of the new groupings, unique and odd at first, become established by the presence of performing groups seeking new repertoire. Just as the Montreal, Orford, Vághy, and Purcell string quartets, the Quebec Woodwind Quintet and the York Winds, and Canadian Brass and the Mount Royal Brass Quintet all inspired (and sometimes actually commissioned) new works, so also did the more specialized performing ensembles. To take two examples only, the Baroque Trio of Montreal inspired, commissioned, and introduced works for the combination of harpsichord, flute, and oboe by Freedman, Hétu, Jones, Morawetz, Pentland, Schafer, and others, and the Lyric Arts Trio stimulated a comparable extensive production for flute, voice, and piano, including Weinzweig's action-piece Trialogue (1971), the even-more-theatrical A Tea Symphony (1972) of Charpentier, and Freedman's Pan (1972). The Cassenti Players and Camerata also were responsible for bringing about new works.

Sometimes unique groupings have united several instruments of the same kind, augmenting a perhaps sparse repertoire and providing an experience of shared learning (such works are in demand for students in instrumental classes) and also the hope of an original musical expression. Examples are Malcolm Forsyth's two trombone quartets, Freedman's bassoon quartet, the clarinet quartets of Fodi and Weinzweig, Bottenberg's large number of works for various assemblages of recorders, and - two special cases indeed - Schudel's Richter 7.8 (1979) for 12 tubas arranged in three antiphonal quartets and Schafer's Music for Wilderness Lake (also 1979) for 12 trombones positioned around a rural lake.

Pioneer works calling for special chamber-music mixtures include Papineau-Couture's Suite (1947) for four wind instruments and piano (characteristic of this composer's neoclassic phase) and Pentland's Octet (1948) for four woodwinds and four brass. Recollections of the contrasts of sonorities in baroque chamber music are discernible in Kenins' Concerto a cinque (1968) for flute, oboe, violin, viola, and piano, although its harmony, linear style, and range of colours are modern features. Buczynski has contributed a number of works introducing novel chamber-music sounds, among which may be cited his Trio/67 for mandolin, clarinet, and double-bass, with its unusual two-movement structure and the jazz touches of its finale, and his Quartet/74 for flute, clarinet, cello, and harpsichord and Trio/74 for harp, bass clarinet, and double-bass, both containing aleatoric devices and passages in a free time-notation; the latter work is distinguished also by its succession of sustained quiet moods. Hawkins' Remembrances (1969), for brass trio, harp, and piano, composed in nine segments each based on a verbal phrase, is exceptional in its range of effects, many of them again subtle and quiet; the images and allusions suggested in these sounds and the work's external references (a loon's cry, a fragment from the last piano sonata of Bethoven) lend a meaning which is private and oblique - though nonetheless intense.

Schudel's Set No. 2 (1967) is a double quintet (woodwind quintet plus brass quintet) introducing an original concept of cumulative density in the sequence of 'free' phrases for one, two, four, six, and eventually all tenor instruments in the third of its four movements. To this work may be compared (in terms of deliberate contrasts between instrumental sub-groups) Papineau-Couture's Sextuor for the combination of woodwind trio and string trio and Pentland's Septet for brass trio, string trio, and organ (both 1967). Wilson's Concerto 5 x 4 x 3 (1970) realizes this tendency more fully, incorporating a string quintet (quartet plus double-bass), a woodwind quartet, and a brass trio in a loose, mobile-like structure containing 'three expositions and three developments for each of the [ensembles]' and conceived to be performed optionally by each ensemble separately or with either or both of the other ensembles. The expositions are strictly notated, while the developments are free and improvisatory. In the full version, acoustic separation of the ensembles is called for, as well as a conductor - the latter representing a borderline situation between chamber music and hall music which, however, for practical reasons is fairly often encountered in recent compositions.

Some of the larger mixed-chamber-music groupings prefer arrangements which oppose a solo instrument to a group. This concerto-like feature may not negate, however, chamber music's traditional independence and separateness of each part in the score. Schafer's early (1954) Concerto for harpsichord and eight winds, Beckwith's Circle, With Tangents (1967) for harpsichord and 13 solo strings, and Cherney's Chamber Concerto (1975) for viola and 10 players are examples. Mather's Ausone (1978-9), for solo flute with string sextet, two guitars, and two harps, introduces microtonalism as an integral quality: five instruments are tuned a quarter-tone lower than the rest, and the flute part also calls for many quarter-tones; the concerto-like structure helps towards aural clarity.

In newer trends of the 1960s and 1970s, while the stock media are far from neglected, three areas formerly less well established as belonging within chamber music's province - percussion, electroacoustics, and voices - became more and more attractive to composers.

Percussion, a stranger to the classical chamber-music forms, came to be cultivated extensively. The tendency is seen in such works as Tremblay's Champs I (1965), for piano and two percussionists, and may be traced to the rediscovery in the late 1950s of the music of Varèse, as well as to the strong development in percussion performance, especially in Montreal, around that time. Later, the same tendency intensified through the programs of the new-music societies, the first of which sprang up in the mid-60s, almost always including an exceptionally gifted percussionist or two among their available performers. Moreover, as will be seen with electroacoustics and with the newer vocal techniques, percussion offers the composer an extraordinary range of timbral possibilities.

Sydney Hodkinson's Interplay (1966, an award-winner in the JM International Competition for Composers in 1967) provides a typically resourceful illustration, not only in its percussion part but also in the flexibility of the other parts, calling for doublings of piccolo/alto flute and clarinet/alto saxophone, with a double-bass as the fourth member of the ensemble. Beecroft's Rasas (1968) for flute, harp, string trio, percussion, and piano, Aitken's Shadows II: Lalitá (1973) for flute, three cellos, two harps, and two percussion, and Garant's Offrande III (1971) for three cellos, two harps, two percussion, and piano may illustrate the influence of new-music-society programming on instrumentation. The close similarity of the ensembles called for by the two last-named is explained by their initial appearance on the same program. Their musical approaches are quite different, however. Aitken's work conjures up a sensuous oriental atmosphere through its glissandi, flute multiphonics, and fluid treatment of time, and Garant's explores in a more abstract way various time-factors and conglomerates of pitches derived from Bach's Musical Offering. Tremblay's Champs II (Souffles) (1968) and Champs III (Vers) (1969) adopt larger groupings of 13 and 12 instruments respectively, in which percussion is a dominant factor. His Solstices ('Les Jours et les saisons tournent') (1971) is scored for flute, clarinet, horn, double-bass, and two percussion, and is both technically advanced and highly visionary in the associations afforded between its chart-notation and the seasonal and geographic conditions of individual performances.

Music for prepared tape has been defined by one Canadian practitioner (Gustav Ciamaga) as a form of chamber music - on the grounds that its individual strands, while they may be amplified for performance, do not envision the sort of doublings found in orchestral music, the special aural effect of the same line played by 20 violins in unison being in fact virtually impossible to replicate by laboratory methods (at least prior to the advent of computer sampling). With prepared-tape, synthesizer, and computer techniques may be combined the various electroacoustic performance aids - for example, the use of amplification, filtering, ring modulation, etc, with live instruments. Mercure's Tétrachromie (1963), for four instruments and prepared tape, represents the first stage of this development with astonishing maturity. Saint-Marcoux's Episodie II (1972) for percussion trio with prepared tape and Coulthard's The Birds of Lansdowne (1972) for piano trio with taped birdsongs are contrasting examples, the one experimental in its treatment of sonority, the other impressionistically related to the nature paintings of the noted west-coast Canadian artist J. Fenwick Lansdowne. In Rea's ... Wings of Silence... (1978), for six inrstruments and tape, inspired by Milton's Comus, the presence of the tape part is to be disguised in performance, with the speakers hidden from the audience. The use of electronic guitar, electronic keyboard, and similar sounds was introduced in chamber works by Boudreau, Montgomery, Rae, Steven, and others.

Chamber-music combinations including one or more solo voices have a slightly longer history, in which Mathieu's Deux Poèmes (1928) for tenor and string quartet, to his own texts; Papineau-Couture's Eclogues (1942) for alto voice, flute, and piano, to poems by Pierre Baillargeon; Beckwith's early The Great Lakes Suite (1949) for soprano, baritone, clarinet, cello, and piano, to poems by James Reaney; and Anhalt's Comments (1954) for alto voice and piano trio, to clippings from a daily newspaper, give a fair cross-section. More demanding vocally are two quite different works on religious texts - Charpentier's Trois Poèmes de St-Jean de la Croix (1954) for alto voice, violin, and cello, and Schafer's Five Studies on Texts by Prudentius (1962) for soprano and four flutes. The former develops a non-repetitive diatonic continuity in chant-like melodic lines, long and of an ascetic expression; the latter wraps a florid voice part in a texture of complex canons. An earlier piece by Schafer may be mentioned: his Minnelieder (1956) for mezzo-soprano and woodwind quintet, on medieval German poems.

Garant's Anerca (1961, rev 1963) for soprano and eight instruments, on English translations of Inuit texts, may be seen in retrospect as establishing a style for works of the succeeding 10-to-15-year period, particularly in the work of composers such as Mather, Tremblay, Beecroft, and Schafer. The trademarks of this style are the wide-ranging expressive devices in the voice parts, by no means confined to conventional singing (Anhalt's book Alternative Voices is a detailed study of such devices, and includes several Canadian examples), and, in the instrumental parts, the dominance of sounds from the harp and mallet-percussion. Major additions to the literature in this period include Mather's Orphée (1963) for soprano, piano, and percussion (text, Paul Valéry), his series of five Madrigals (1967-73), for one or two voices with various instrumental forces (texts, Nos. 1-4, Saint-Denys Garneau; No. 5 without text), including (in No. 4) a prepared tape, and his Musique pour Champigny (1976) for three voices (again textless) and four instruments; Tremblay's Kékoba (1965-7) for three voices, percussion, and ondes Martenot (phonemic text by the composer, adapted from various religious sources) and Oralléluiants (1975) for soprano and eight instruments (text, first alleluia for Whitsunday); Beecroft's Rasas II (1973, rev 1975) for contralto, six instruments, and tape (text, various sources) and Rasas III (1974) for soprano, four instruments, and tape (phonemic text by the composer); and Schafer's Requiems for the Party-Girl (1966, later incorporated in his Patria II) for mezzo-soprano and nine instruments and Arcana (1972) for voice and 10 instruments, both to texts by the composer.

Somers' Twelve Miniatures (1964) touch on this style at times but achieve an original shape and a particular poignancy of expression. The texts, English translations of Japanese haiku, are arranged in a seasonal order, and the recurrence in the last of phrases from the first provides an effective comment on human perceptions of time. The scoring, for soprano, flute, cello, and harpsichord, the economy of musical means, and the adroit use of silences all provide sonorous correspondences to the intensity and brevity of the oriental poems. Further exploration is indicated in Alain Gagnon's Les Oies sauvages (1973) for voice and seven instruments, including intricate parts for both harpsichord and piano (text, Guy de Maupassant), and in Vivier's Lettura di Dante (1974) for soprano and seven instruments (texts, Dante Alighieri).

In Joachim's Illumination I (1965) and Illumination II (1969) and in Anhalt's Foci (1969), refined concepts of vocal and instrumental chamber music are fused with theatre and mixed media in novel ways. Joachim's two works, notated in free chart form, include live electronics and lighting effects which are integral to performance in determining specifics of dynamics, texture, and duration. Foci embraces not only a multi-channel prepared-tape part made up of voices speaking and singing in a variety of languages, but also slide-projections and a scheme of ritualistic entrances and exits for the performers (10 instrumentalists, with a solo soprano in the extended finale only).

The phenomenal spread of new-music societies and ensembles is recounted elsewhere. The repertoire of such groups comes largely under the rubric 'chamber music,' and this is one main reason why a comprehensive account of newer additions cannot be given in a brief space. A few highlights, chosen to show directions, must suffice.

Some tendencies in composition for 'non-standard' ensembles (as they are called above) continue. New like-ensemble pieces have featured saxophones (Archer, Rea), cellos (Rosen), or the flute family (Chan). The chamber-concerto field has been cultivated by Kulesha and Kenins, both in works so titled, and in kindred works of more specific character such as Rea's Treppenmusik (Staircase Music, 1982), a musical tribute to the optical-illusion art of M.C. Escher; Morel's Fulgurance I (1986), with its mobile solo horn and its solemn tone marked twice by ritual slow beats on a gong; Gellman's eclectic, Messiaen-influenced Chiaroscuro (1988); and others by, for example, Bouliane, Evangelista, Longtin, and Louie. Overt jazz references, as opposed to faint jazz overtones, surface in Buhr's bright and fast-paced Jazzmusik (1986). Spatial considerations arise in Hiscott's Scenes Before the Flood (1987), for seven instruments stationed around the audience, with its 'two-by-two' unison duets and its antiphonal 'droplets' of staccato trumpet notes.

A movement toward chamber music with historical connotations, for conventional instruments with or without a juxtaposition of voices and 'early' instruments, was foretold in Fodi's Western Wynde (1979), and fostered by early-music performers such as Les Coucous Bénévoles and the Toronto Consort; it has been well sustained, for example in Underhill's The Celestial Machine and Hope Lee's In a Mirror of Light (both 1988), and in Beckwith's Les Premiers hivernements (1986) and The Hector (1990). The local-history aspects of the last two works are echoed in a composition for three conventional wind instruments and piano, Cardy's Qilakitsoq (The Sky Hangs Low, 1988), whose scales and repeated patterns suggest Inuit sources. The continuing attraction of flexible structures is seen in Brady's Directions (1982, improvisational schemes for four different instrumental quartets), Kasemets' graphic Counterpoints for Philip Corner (1988 - 'Performance instructions: none, except that any one or more or all pairs of facing pages should be dealt with together, be it for silent contemplation, musical performance, dance, or whatever'), and Hatch's partly computer-generated Festino lente (1990, for an unspecified trio).

Formations derived from classical traditions of the Orient - marked by, among other traits, an ornate monody, often distributed among different instruments heterophonically, and a complex rhythmic continuity generally avoiding rubato - depart from the traditional procedures of European chamber music, but are related in their refinements and their suitability for intimate ensembles. Examples are Louie's Music for a Thousand Autumns (1983, rev 1985), influenced by classical Chinese music, and Vivier's Paramirabo (1978) and Evangelista's O Bali (1989), both stemming from Indonesian models.

Percussion, electroacoustics, and vocal chamber music, delineated above as relatively new emphases in the 1970s, received significant further mapping in the 1980s. For percussion-ensemble music the performing activities of Nexus provided a vital spark: both Hawkins' disarming Dance Variations (1983, rev 1986) and Tenney's elaborately schematic Rune (1988) were composed for this group. In electroacoustics, notable additions to the combining of synthetic and live parts were studies by Arcuri (Prologue, 1985, among other works), Beecroft (Jeu II, 1985), Bouliane ('... comme un silène entr'ouvert...,' 1984), Lanza (various pieces 1977-82, some involving multi-media demands), and Steven (Straight on Til Morning, 1985). Mather's Aux victimes de la guerre de Vendée 1793 (1990) combined a tape part, notated and prepared more or less 'classically,' with three 'live' instruments: a solo horn and two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart. The pioneer of electronic instruments, the ondes Martenot, was freshly employed in Gougeon's Dix millions d'anges (1988) and in Lalonde's Glissements, tourments, ravissements (also 1988), for two ondistes, strings, and trombones - an extended study in the gliding-tone capabilities of all these forces, as well as in spatial deployment of sounds.

In chamber music with voice, indigenous subjects were interestingly treated in Ridout's Exile (1984, for narrator and nine instruments), on passages from a 19th-century Canadian classic, Susanna Moodie's Roughing It in the Bush, and Hannan's Trinkets of Little Value (1986), a minimalist score based on Cartier's 1535 'dictionary' of Native words. While some composers devised their own texts (eg, Buhr in Níniel, 1989), others drew on existing poetry, often by Canadians (eg, Chatman's Shadow River, 1981, after E. Pauline Johnson; Papineau-Couture's Nuit polaire, 1986, words by Isabelle Papineau-Couture; or Behrens' Some Music, 1987, to six poems of Adele Wiseman).

Further Reading