Guido Molinari Bi-triangle bleu, 1970

Champagne, Éric, Quatuor no.1 « Avant la nuit » (2016)

String Quartet no.1 « Avant la nuit »

  • La fin (The End)
  • De fureur et de déchirement (Of Fury and Heartbreak)
  • Éclats de lune (Slivers of the Moon)

Total time : 22 minutes

Commissioned by the Molinari Quartet

Premiered Friday May 27 2016 by the Molinari Quartet at the Montreal Conservatory

I composed this quartet after reading the autobiography of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990), Before Night Falls. « Avant la nuit »I wasn’t seeking to chronologically reproduce the events of the narrative, but rather to generate emotions and atmospheres that had filled my consciousness while reading.

This biography begins at the end. His death, which he knows to be imminent, will merely be the expected conclusion of the illness, AIDS, consuming his body. Though he had begun writing his story years before, within it he expresses the urgency of finishing “before night falls”, before his death. The second movement evokes his tumultuous life in Cuba, between his naive hope in the revolution (echoes of The Internationale)and the deception that followed, between his will to survive and the repression of the Castro regime. The final movement returns to the atmosphere of the first, but presents a lyrical escape – inspired by the moon, his protective goddess – that takes flight in spite of the fatal presence of illness (an underlying omnipresent three-note motive based on the French acronym for AIDS –SIDA– [si]-B, D, A).

Lacking social welfare and receiving little to no medical treatment, Arenas chose to end his life in 1990, after having completed his literary work.

Sheet music available at the Canadian Music Center

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