7 years ago

Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015

Vol 21 No 2 is now available for your viewing pleasure, and it's a bumper crop, right at the harvest moon. First ever Canadian opera on the Four Seasons Centre main stage gets double coverage with Wende Bartley interviewing Pyramus and Thisbe composer Barbara Monk Feldman and Chris Hoile connecting with director Christopher Alden; Paul Ennis digs into the musical mind of pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, and pianist Eve Egoyan is "On the Record" in conversation with publisher David Perlman ahead of the Oct release concert for her tenth recording. And at the heart of it all the 16th edition of our annual BLUE PAGES directory of presenters profile the season now well and truly under way.

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continued from page 9 On the Record work to life. As for the comfort of playing standard repertoire alongside, I think I lost that – partly because so many others do it so much better than me – but I think maybe my audiences miss that a little in terms of the context that mixed repertoire can bring.” Maybe when this disc is out, she says, she’ll give it some more thought. By then the upcoming Subtle Technologies fundraiser will be over, as will her recording of Maria de Alvear’s two-hour diptych De puro amor and En amor duro (which will be released in 2016). But by then planning for her 2016 Earwitness Tour of works for disklavier and image will be in high gear – a tour which will include, among others, venues such as the Other Minds Festival (San Francisco), Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theatre (Los Angeles), University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Irvine, Stanford University and the Musée des beaux arts de Montréal at Bourgie Hall. So maybe the thought will have to wait. Next spring’s Earwitness tour is a clear indicator of some of the directions Egoyan’s passionate exploration of her art is taking her. “It’s an exploration of how “My dialogue with other artists and art forms through what I produce is very important to me.” music can intersect with visual arts in such a way that they are truly married,” she says. There was an early incarnation of the idea for disklavier and image at Koerner Hall during the 2013 inaugural 21C Festival. But it has grown by leaps and bounds since then, to include pieces by John Oswald, Nicole Lizée, Michael Snow and, hopefully Chiyoko Szlavnics, with two of the works being for disklavier, but also one for amplified piano, one for piano and sine tones and one for acoustic piano. “It’s a project that’s just growing and growing” she says. “But it is a very delicate project, because the music and the image have to blend. It’s not just music accompanying a visual narrative; it’s not just patterns you are seeing visually to mimic the music. It’s actually quite rigorous. And so people who are working with this, because Canada has a richness of them, are usually artists who are not only musicians but also visual artists. So the mandate is to see if there can truly be a new – I don’t want to call it a new art form – but yeah, how much success can one have in bringing the two art forms into a closer relationship?” As if all this were not enough, she reveals that for the past two years she has also been trying to eke out enough time to explore composition, under the terms of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship. “I didn’t realize until I started taking time away from my interpretive practice how different they were. I mean with interpretation you have a score, there’s always an end point to move towards. An hour, two hours. But with creation it’s not at all like that. But it’s something that I passionately want to explore.” Fully expecting an affirmative response, I ask if improvisation has been a useful bridge for her between the two. “ I had thought it would be,” she says. “I actually started there but it became very unsatisfying. In my project as originally proposed, I was going to – because I work in ProTools for my rough editing as well – I thought I would be able to pick my way through improvisations creating a collage, but that just fell apart. So I feel like I am just teaching myself the very basics of the craft. Slowly. Whether anything gets performed, ever, right now I don’t know.” As we talk I remark that it is fascinating to observe how she is able in the same instant to open herself to new ideas while at the same time managing not to be distracted by them from the task at hand. “There’s an energy issue involved,” she says, “because I also self– administrate, doing all the grant writing, all the tour arrangements, stuff like that, and I have to keep time for my creative work. So as far as developing other creative projects, I have to be able to say that’s enough. And I’m a mother (we’re going to Barber of Seville tomorrow, by the way) and there’s a birthday party in two weeks ... and I have aging parents. As far as sanity and quality of the work go, that’s the picture for now. But that being said, I’m in discussion for 2017 for a possible commission for a very interesting concerto – I have my fingers crossed. It would mean a huge deal if it happens (and I can’t talk about it yet). In fact there’s a lot of things I can’t talk about yet. So many exciting ideas and so many people. I can’t shut myself down creatively. But I have learned how to parcel things off into the future so I can do my best work in the present with what I already have to do. So that’s what I do.” As for remaining in the present, as of writing this, the CD launch concert for Thought and Desire is now only a few weeks away (October 16, 17, 18 at 8pm). In the choice of venue and the program for the evening it is in and of itself a microcosm of the mix of thought and desire that infuse Egoyan’s artistic praxis. Take the venue, for example: “I decided for the release concert, because it’s very quiet music, to bring it to a space I have never used, Small World Music at Artscape, which seats about 60 people. I’m bringing a piano in and I’m going to do it for multiple nights, so that people can be close to the quiet. I would usually do things at the Gould or the St. Lawrence Centre (and they are lovely and the pianos are lovely). In fact the only thing I am giving up here is the piano. A nine-foot won’t fit in the elevator and to get it up the stairs would be really expensive. But the size of the space is lovely and, as a selfpresenting artist, to have to blow such a huge part of the budget on a hall is always tough. Here people have the opportunity to go more than once or to pick a day.... And I like that it’s somewhere between super casual and super formal, and it’s raked, and has a tiny stage, so there’s that balance between separation and closeness. I am trying to find a place that has a balance between slightly formal but also intimate.” It’s a description that speaks to the striving for a balance between adventure and equilibrium in this always interesting artist’s life. David Perlman is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The WholeNote. He can be reached at Three major new orchestral works by Tim Brady, featuring impressive live performances by Symphony Nova Scotia, under the direction of Bernhard Gueller. Concertos with Robert Uchida (violin) and Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot (viola), and the first recording of Symphony #4. YouTube: Tim Brady & Symphony Nova Scotia PREVIOUS REVIEW “Tim Brady’s Third Symphony, Atacama, (is) a work of haunting and explosive power.” - GRAMOPHONE CENTREDISCS CMCCD 21515 Available from Naxos and through iTunes 58 | Oct 1 - Nov 7, 2015

DISCOVERIES | RECORDINGS REVIEWED DAVID OLDS If ever there were two artists more suited to each other’s aesthetic than composer Linda Catlin Smith and pianist Eve Egoyan I’m sure I don’t know who they are. Their latest project, THOUGHT and DESIRE (Earwitness Editions EE2015, was realized at the Banff Centre in December 2014. The CD contains first recordings of three works by Smith written at six year intervals beginning in 2001. The most recent, Nocturnes and Chorales, will receive its Toronto premiere performance October 16 to 18 at the Small World Music Centre. It consists of nine movements which the composer says “seemed to be either nocturne-like or chorale-like in nature. At the heart of the music is the voice of the piano, its resonance and character, the way inner voices work in a chorale for instance, or the way melody and arpeggiation can create a landscape.” She goes on to say that Chopin and Satie were in the back of mind during the creation of the work which was the result of a residency through ArtSpring on Salt Spring Island. The overall sense of the pieces is quiet and contemplative, but in the hybrid Nocturne Chorale there are moments when the repetition of strangely sonorous note clusters brings to mind an anecdote about New England composer Carl Ruggles back in the early part of the 20th century. One day, drawn by the seemingly tireless banging of a single complex tone cluster on the piano over and over again, a neighbouring farmer dropped by to ask what the infernal noise was. Ruggles reportedly told him he was giving the chord the “test of time.” Admittedly Smith and Egoyan’s “banging” is gentle by comparison, but there is a certain relentless quality at times. The overall impression however is one of timelessness. Thought and Desire (2007) is quiet and introspective. The pianist is called upon to realize a setting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 45 “to be sung quietly as though to oneself or someone close by.” Egoyan’s fragile, barely audible voice brings to mind another Shakespeare reference, mad Ophelia’s songs. In an extended essay that accompanies the disc, Doina Popescu discusses the final, and earliest composed, work presented. “The Underfolding is a composition that digs into a multi-layered reservoir of sounds while moving elegantly through the musical fabric of the piece. The title evokes a well-known oil-painting technique called ‘underpainting’ developed by the masters of the Renaissance. The hidden under-layer was used to sketch the basic design of each work, its tonal values and shadings of light and dark.” Smith says, “I became interested in working in a layered way, to create a more ambiguous or diffuse sense of harmony …. This was my way of creating a subtle complexity, which comes not from an attempt at virtuosity, but from a desire to create a hovering atmosphere.” I think this well describes not only the piece in question but Smith’s oeuvre in general – a hovering atmosphere where the nature of sound itself becomes the subject. It takes a good deal of patience to fully appreciate this slowly unfolding music, but the effort is well-rewarded. Concert notes: As mentioned above, Eve Egoyan has performances at the Small World Music Centre in the Artscape Youngplace facility on Shaw St. on October 16, 17 and 18 at which she will perform Linda Catlin Smith’s Nocturnes and Chorales and new works by Nick Storring and John Mark Sherlock. Smith’s Gold Leaf will be performed by Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble at Betty Oliphant Theatre on October 17 under the auspices of New Music Concerts. One of the most striking theatrical experiences I had over the summer was the production DIVE at the Arraymusic Studio, based on Giuseppe Di Lampedusa’s short story The Professor and the Siren. The play was developed by Richard Sanger, Alex Fallis and Fides Krucker, and Krucker also had a major hand in the development of the music, composing and improvising most of her multi-character role and working with sound designer Nik Beeson. When the CD DIVE: Odes for Lighea ( arrived on my desk I wondered how well the “soundtrack” would work when taken out of the theatre. Beeson, who provided the incidental music for the play, has expanded and developed it for the purposes of this stand-alone product. Fortunately, the short synopsis provided with the disc does give most of the story’s premise, explaining the context, the characters and the slowly revealed tale of the mermaid with whom the professor fell in love one fateful summer in his youth. This is juxtaposed with the political climate in Italy at the time of the story’s telling, when Mussolini is rising to power and totalitarianism is the ultimate result. The sound design is mostly electroacoustic but includes some instrumental sounds such as bass (Rob Clutton), vibes (Rick Sacks) and piano (Neil Gardiner). Beeson himself adds a number of percussion textures including cloud bowls and mbira. The more unpleasant moments include archival snippets from Mussolini’s speeches and Krucker performing a particularly growly rendition of the fascist hymn Giovinezza, drawing on her signature extended vocal techniques. But we also hear her in clear and attractive voice in her portrayal of the various female characters. I should point out that Canadian pianist Janina Fialkowska performs a selection of 25 Lyric Pieces with delicacy and refinement. András Schiff – Schubert A sumptuous recital of sonatas, Moments musicaux & Impromptus performed on a fortepiano. Daniel Barenboim & Gustavo Dudamel Brahms: Piano Concertos Common South American roots fuse in this energetic reading of Brahms two concertos for piano. Pianist Réa Beaumont’s CD ‘A Conversation Piece’ “Beaumont’s touch is well-suited to the delicate textures and the intricate passages” Beaumont’s “compositional prowess” Oct 1 - Nov 7, 2015 | 59

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