THOMAS COUVILLON, COMPOSER
Mélange à Quatre
The origins of the reed trio (oboe, clarinet, bassoon) can be traced to Paris in the early 1920s. Over the years, many wonderful pieces have been composed for this ensemble, including works by Milhaud, Françaix, Ibert and Martinu. Works for reed trio and piano are, however, much less common, so I decided that it would be fun to write a piece for this unusual combination. While I was sketching ideas for the piece, I drew a lot of inspiration from the colorful and eclectic compositions for winds by Poulenc and other French composers of the early 20th century. As the piece progressed, I found myself writing sections that reminded me of different historical periods from the Baroque to the Modern. The frequent changes of style combined with the shifting tonality of the harmony inspired the title, Mélange à Quatre (Mixture for Four).
Rivière du Diable
Commissioned by the Lexington Chamber Orchestra–April 2019
Two hours north of Montreal, paved roads begin to disappear, and one enters a vast wilderness of forests and lakes that extends northward for hundreds of miles. At the frontier of this great expanse lies la Rivière du Diable (the Devil’s river), so named by pioneering timber workers who found it unsuitable for transporting logs. Starting from an isolated lake in the Mont Tremblant National Park that is inaccessible to the public, the Diable’s winding path passes mountains, pristine lakes and narrow valleys before arriving in the more frequented areas of the park. This composition paints a series of musical postcards that attempt to convey the natural beauty of the Rivière du Diable and the dramatic seasonal changes that are a major feature of this northern region.
Feb. 15: Frozen and silent, an isolated lake lies under a blanket of snow.
Apr. 15: The ice melts and the rains come. The river flows swiftly through the valley.
July 15: A beautiful summer’s day. Tourists flock to the park to float down the river in canoes.
Oct. 15: The magnificent fall colors of maple and birch begin to fade. The days get shorter.
The Pond in Winter
from Walden by Henry David Thoreau
“After a still winter night I awoke with the impression that some question had been put to me, which I had been endeavoring in vain to answer in my sleep, as what—how—when—where? But there was dawning Nature, in whom all creatures live, looking in at my broad windows with serene and satisfied face, and no question on her lips. I awoke to an answered question, to Nature and daylight. The snow lying deep on the earth dotted with young pines, and the very slope of the hill on which my house is placed, seemed to say, Forward! Nature puts no question and answers none which we mortals ask. She has long ago taken her resolution. “O Prince, our eyes contemplate with admiration and transmit to the soul the wonderful and varied spectacle of this universe. The night veils without doubt a part of this glorious creation; but day comes to reveal to us this great work, which extends from earth even into the plains of the ether.”