To honour the work of Montreal pianist and composer André Mathieu, the CMIM officials have chosen Laurentienne No. 2 as the compulsory Canadian work for candidates in their semifinal recital.
André Mathieu was born in Montreal on February 18, 1929. Like Mozart, he received his first music lessons from his father, and was already composing little pieces by the age of four. Noël Strauss of The New York Times wrote that even Mozart, the greatest musical prodigy of all time, only began composing at the age of four, and his first works were much simpler in nature than those of the young Canadian. Also like Mozart, he astonished audiences far and wide with his pianistic prowess from a very young age: at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montreal at six, in the Salle Pleyel and Salle Gaveau in Paris at seven, in Carnegie Hall, New York at ten. Rachmaninov pronounced him “a genius, more so than I am.”
André Mathieu undertook composition studies in Paris, then later in New York, and after World War II again in Paris. Most of his works are short piano pieces, but only about a quarter of his known compositions – well over two hundred – have been located thus far, and much research remains to be done. Mathieu’s fame peaked around 1950. He died on April 18, 1968, completely forgotten, at the age of 39.
Laurentienne No. 2 (1946)
Only the second of [André Mathieu’s] six “Laurentienne” pieces survives. “I would say it is a remarkably good work for a composer of any age, let alone seventeen. In it I found something that I have never seen anywhere else: trills in the right hand for the inner fingers while the outer fingers (thumb and pinkie) are involved with other material.” Alain Lefèvre
© Robert Markow