Mp3 Blog #14: John Rea

John Rea:
Objets Perdus (1991)
For String Quartet

Performed by the Arditti Quartet

Purchase other recordings of music by John Rea through the Canadian Music Centre

John Rea is one of the better living Canadian composers and also one of the more enigmatic. Since he has been my mentor for the last few years, most of our meetings have more resembled philosophical discussions revolving around esthetics and doubt rather than more composition lessons.

For this entry, I’m going to forego any biographical descriptions and just refer an article my friend Marc Couroux wrote a number of years ago about John Rea, called ”The Madness of King John.”

“Objets Perdus” was commissioned by the Arditti Quartet and won the Prix Jules-Léger (possibly the highest honour for a new chamber music composition in Canada) in 1992. Absurdly, although it has been performed by other string quartets such as Montréal’s Quatuor Bozzini, it has never been commercially released.

Since John Rea is quite the wordsmith, I’ve also decided to forego any other commentary on this work and let his program note speak of the work’s enigmas on its own.

“’Recognizing a common object consists above all in knowing how to make use of it.’

‘Each object is the mirror of all the others’

‘It is in entering the object that one enters into one’s very own skin’

‘I look at what I am losing
And do not see what remains.

‘Music, not being made of objects nor referring to objects, is intangible and ineffable; it can only be…inhaled by the spirit: the rest is silence.’
-Jacques Barzun

Objets perdus (lost objects), dispersed among twelve progressively expanding movements (the first being very short in duration), evolve over time as musical materials disappear along the way; one may certainly consider what one is losing, but one should also listen for what remains.”

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