Amazing reviews for Thought and Desire
REVIEWS of EVE EGOYAN’s most recent disc:
Musicworks Magazine – Julian Cowley
In his “Sonnet 45” William Shakespeare muses on thought and desire as “present-absent” qualities. Both testify to a bond with the loved one, but they speak also of distance. Pianist Eve Egoyan sings the words of this sonnet as she plays Linda Catlin Smith’s composition Thought and Desire. Her voice has an affectingly delicate, wounded quality, and the piano articulates with comparable sensitivity the rhythmic and melodic contours of the same text, faithfully punctuated. Music and words conspire to convey the bittersweet truth that yearning and imagination are symptoms of separateness. At the same time, Egoyan’s playing seems to spring a hinge between silence and sound, making audible the hyphen that links absence and presence.
Two further world premieres are featured on this beautifully realized and thought-provoking release. The nine movements of Nocturnes and Chorales negotiate a liaison between introspective crepuscular meandering and statements that ring with outgoing purpose. The Underfolding is a self-consciously painterly composition that exploits the piano’s capacity to render textures, layers, and colour combinations. Its figures are elusive, lurking in shade or drawn into more densely harmonized thickets where sonic material is kneaded into a state of mind. Smith’s compositional subtlety and Egoyan’s interpretive grace collude in that remarkable and recurrent alchemy which keeps piano music fresh and vital despite the daunting weight of its history.
“Recent Piano Music” by Nathan Thomas, Fluid Radio (UK)
The piano music of Linda Catlin Smith is expertly brought to life by Eve Egoyan on her recording “Thought and Desire”. Melodies and harmonies make audible a constant wandering, driven by a very specific, persistent urge. Nowhere is this clearer than on the wonderful title piece, where streams of chords are repeatedly brought to a halt by a pinprick of light that simply refuses to be dismissed, even when Egoyan’s delicate voice joins the argument. The series “Nocturnes and Chorales” presents such mysteries as steep crags of broken chords climbing into icy heights (‘Nocturne 3’), a giant’s plodding footsteps (‘Chorale 3’), and the leaping of notes like a mountain goat followed by the great flurry of a sudden blizzard (‘Chorale 4’). Egoyan’s playing highlights the way in which Catlin Smith’s warm harmonies are constantly displaced and unsettled by restless searching.
“THOUGHT AND DESIRE” music by LINDA CATLIN SMITH
The Rambler. Blogging the music that others won’t tell you about. – Tim-Rutherford Johnson
Thought and Desire, a collection of Smith’s piano music played by Canada’s new music champion, pianist Eve Egoyan. I reviewed that disc at the start of the year for Tempo, saying: ‘What particularly excites me about listening to Smith’s music is how hard it is to pin down. … It seems so straightforward in the moment, but becomes impossible to grasp only shortly afterwards, which is perhaps the right way around to be. Much of the music here has a gentle, quasi-improvisatory feel, as short melodies and chord sequences are allowed to turn slowly in the light. Yet within that gentle informality is a precise rightness, like the thousandth kiss from a lifelong lover.’
Smith has a gift – one that I particularly treasure when I find it in music – of turning things suddenly and surprisingly into a new light…. Her most jaw-dropping moment I’ve found so far occurs midway through the piano solo Thought and Desire when suddenly (if a whisper can be sudden) the pianist’s voice enters ‘quietly as though to oneself or someone close by’, murmuring the words of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XLV to a song that until now had been hidden within the piano’s chords.
Smith’s time has, finally, come.
Tempo (A Quarterly Journal published by Cambridge University Press),Volume 70, Issue 276, April 2016 – Tim Rutherford-Johnson
A project supported by the always-interesting World Edition label, and jointly released by them and Earwitness Editions of Canada, this record of Smith’s piano music is played sensitively and subtly by Eve Egoyan.
What particularly excites me about listening to Smith’s music is how hard it is to pin down. To say it is full of contradictions would give the misleading impression that it is somehow engaged in a dialectical struggle with itself, full of rips and tears. But no: I’d say more that it accommodates multiplicity, rather than attempting either a synthesis or a critique.
Let me give an example. I wanted to say at first that Smith’s music is broadly tonal, or at least that it engages with a kind of Debussian extended tonality, but that’s not really true: several passages use robust clusters or darkly dissonant harmonies. Perhaps, rather, it is that she favours materials of a clear character, whether sweet or sour, but then those characters are always being undermined by subtle shifts in pitch or phrasing, unexpected repetitions or sudden breaks. It seems so straightforward in the moment, but becomes impossible to grasp only shortly afterwards, which is perhaps the right way around to be. Much of the music here has a gentle, quasi-improvisatory feel, as short melodies and chord sequences are allowed to turn slowly in the light. Yet within that gentle informality is a precise rightness, like the thousandth kiss from a lifelong lover.
Occupying half the disc is Smith’s series of nine Nocturnes and Chorales. Broadly speaking, the nocturnes are melodic, the chorales harmonic. However, although this division holds pretty well for the first example of each – a slowly looping single thread, and a string of icy, isolated chords – it soon starts to dissolve. Melodies spin out into dreamy ostinati and chords thin down to single notes. Once more, the multiplicity of things is simply accepted and shown for what it is.
The other long piece on the Smith recording is The Underfolding, a 20-minute single span that attempts a musical analogue of the use of layered undertones in painting. Exploiting the piano’s ability to sustain sounds, Smith layers chords – of greater diversity and complexity than else where on this disc – to create an ever-shifting atmosphere that is coloured as much by what lies underneath as what appears on top.
The real prize of the album, however, is the title track, Thought and Desire. Smith draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s Sonnet XLV: ‘The other two, slight air and purging fire’. The music begins with dreamy washes of cluster chords, reminiscent of Henry Cowell at his most limpid. Nothing is quite obvious, but a certain amount of melodic curve can be glimpsed. (Every register of the piano is in play here, and Egoyan balances them beautifully.) Not Shakespeare’s purging fire, but surely his slight air. The truly magical moment occurs, however, midway through as Egoyan starts to sing the text of the sonnet ‘quietly as though to oneself or someone close by’ (as instructed in the score), her voice tracing those curves that until now we have only barely heard. Simple, perfect. When people ask what am I listening to at the moment, this is the music I’ve been telling them about.
The Wire, August 2016 – Julian Cowley
Smith’s setting of a Shakespeare sonnet is performed with real sensitivity by pianist Eve Egoyan. That music artfully matches the poem’s portrayal of two bodies caught within a web of supposition, as anxiety and consolation fluctuate within a love affair.
Alex Ross’ “Nightafternight playlist”, February 2016
Thought and Desire was selected as part of Alex Ross’ “Nightafternight playlist”,