Paramirabo (1978) by Claude Vivier
for flute, violin, cello, and piano

It has been said that the title Paramirabo derives from an error on Vivier's part. He wanted to give his work this title as a reference to the capital of Suriname, a South American country that Vivier appears not to have visited. The result is a work imbued with an imagined form of exoticism that, on hearing, brings to mind a "story in music" for children. The flute's pastoral naivety, the violin's lyricism, the piano's ambivalence, and the good-naturedness of the cello solo all make the instruments seem like characters, and one can clearly discern a dialogue amongst them. A calm and peaceful situation established by the flute, violin, and cello is quickly disrupted by a violent passage in the piano. A series of exchanges follow, as instruments enter alternately to deliver fragments of children's melodies that seem familiar. Because Vivier's works are never exactly cheerful, the extremely calm, lengthy final section comes as no surprise: like the disturbing consensus amongst the instruments, all parties concerned appear to have awakened from a nightmare.

— Martine Rhéaume    

[from program for February 11, 2008 concert]