To break the winter cold (2001)

13 min.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are those associated with the winters in Québec’s Eastern Townships region, where I grew up. Skiing across snow-muted landscapes, the play of snowfall, and the profound, echoing stillness of winter nights are images which I still carry. There was also the intensely cold wind, tearing across the farming plains, making it painful to draw a breath, yet somehow a bracing reminder of being alive. I was always struck by how the outer world was reflected in the people around me by a gradual drawing inward, a state broken only by the comforting presence of others and, later in the season, the booming sound of ice breaking on lakes and rivers, and the pale rays of the sun finally bringing warmth.

It is this narrative which informs To break the winter cold, a rhapsodic work in which the piano becomes both the landscape and the viewer, where constantly whirling figures and buffeting windlike gestures slowly coalesce into a serene meditation, and are then transformed in the final section into an aural change of seasons.