Concerto - Les quatre éléments
pour guitare et orchestre

Composition Date: 2003
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Orchestra with Soloist, Guitar(s)/Lute(s)


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Guitar
  • 1 x Full orchestra
Programme Note:
Les Quatre Éléments is a work for guitar which exists in two versions:
one solo, the other in concert with orchestra. It is the result of an
encounter between the guitarist Rémi Boucher and the composer Jacques
Marchand who, although being native to the same city, did not actually
meet until 1993. Describing his forays into extended guitar techniques
(see the descriptions appended), the guitarist asked the composer to
write a work that would bring them to the fore. The orchestral version
of Les Quatre Éléments was premiered in Quebec in 2000, in a concert
of the Orchestre Symphonique Régional d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
Since Jacques Marchand is not a guitar player, and because many of the
new guitar effects planned for the work were Rémi Boucher's own creation,
the piece was composed in close collaboration, the composer assigning
the transcription of several solo passages to Boucher as well as
the cadenzas of the orchestral version. At the same time the poetic aspect
and its effect on the conception of the ensemble of this work in a
simple tonal language, made up of four movements corresponding to
the four elements comes from the hand of Jacques Marchand. He explains
the main forces behind the work as follows:
“It is not a description of the elements as such, but rather the evocation
of the emotive relationship that binds the human condition to these, in
conjunction with its internal dualism. It is within this perspective that,
from the outset, I conceived the four thematic motives that characterize
each of the movements.”
In La Terre, which calls up the density that characterizes tellurian matter,
a simple, energetic theme and orchestral accompaniment develop
within a fairly clearly defined ternary (A-B-A) structure, the B section
consisting in an extended cadenza.
L'Eau takes us on a voyage across the sea of lovers, for this element
symbolizes the loving and affective state; tears of joy, like tears of pain.
We quit our adolescence as we would take leave of a stream, to head
towards a greater water, with ever strengthening waves, to be assaulted
by the storms of love. But the call of mermaids is steady. And it is in this
claim that we hear them best. Even though we realize that these are
impossible loves, we are unable to resist the temptation. We plunge into
the water head first for better or worse! Passion throws us in the eye of
the storm. Fortunately, the drowning soul is once again delivered to
solid ground.
L'Eau was without question the most difficult of the movements to write,
the motions of the waves that I created at the piano being not terribly
guitar-like. In consequence, Rémi Boucher made a suggestion that would
draw on the inherent qualities of the instrument: to write a slow, highrange
melody in the first section in order to free the low strings to create
an undulating effect that would enhance the sensation of the pulsating
rhythm of the waves.
L'Air is intended as a reflection on joy and suffering: suffering already
present from the moment we take our first breath as though confronted
by the icy lashing of a winter's bitter wind; our being is overwhelmed by
joy as our lungs fill with pure air, or as we inhale the warm air emanating
from a good fire while glacial temperatures prevail outside. This
movement has a free form (free as air...) and it ends with a short recapitulation,
followed by a codetta. At the suggestion of Rémi Boucher, I
incorporated harp strokes or “harpophony” in a continuous flow of arpeggios.
This approach was exactly suited to the musical conception I
had for this piece.
Le Feu represents the impertections that burn us, the vices through
which we are tormented, the need to combat them in spite of the passion
that ignites them in all of us. By using every dance-like theme and
the form of a rondo, I was able at recreate the hypnotic effect induced
through a fixation on the flame.

Premiere Information:
Date: avril 2000 Par: L'Orchestre Symphonique Régional d'Abitibi-Témiscamingue Soliste : Rémi Boucher


  • Call Number:
  • MI 1315 M315quat
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Orchestra with Soloist, Guitar(s)/Lute(s)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • February 2, 2009
  • Type:
  • Print-music, published
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (iiii, 149 p.); 22 cm
    149 Pages
    Height: 36 cm
    Width: 22 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Pour guitare et orchestre (2222/4331/timbale/cordes)
    La cadence est de Rémi Boucher
    Dédié à Rémi Boucher
    I- La terre
    II- L'eau
    III- L'air
    IV- Le feu
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