Michel Perrault – contemporary Canadian composer this week. Still going strong at 90. Perrault initially studied Timpani before switching to composition. In 1946 he went to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger. From 1949 until 1968 he was a composer for the CBC. In addition to composing, Perrault was still an active percussionist and from 1949 to 1965 was Percussionist for the OSM and from 1957 was assistant conductor of the OSM.
Needless to say, Michel Perrault has had a busy career.
This recording, from a session done for the CBC in 1956 is his Trio, which was composed in 1954. The trio in this recording consists of Hyman Bress, violin, Walter Joachim, cello and John Newmark, Piano.
Perrault’s music has distinguished itself by his sense of form and his mastery of the instruments of the orchestra, as well as his successful use of Quebec Folk Music for inspiration. If anything, his music is probably considered more conservative than other contemporary composers from the same time period. He has actively shunned Dodecaphonism and serialism, concentrating instead on harmony and the melodic structure of a piece.
He produced very little in the way of music between 1968 and 1978 and resumed, but at a much slower output between 1978 and 1990. Today, he is most closely associated now with the Gerald Danovitch Saxophone Quartet and has written numerous pieces and arrangement for the group. He has also formed his own publishing firm, Les publications Bonart.
Since Michel Perrault is still very much with us, his musical output is no doubt continuing. It would be interesting to compare this work from 1954 to one of his more recent. Perhaps there will be another batch of CBC sessions featuring his more recent music. In the meantime, relax and get familiar with another name you may not know, but should.
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