In his study, The Medieval Imagination, French historian Jacques Le Goff distinguishes between the “miraculous” and the “marvelous” (ormirabilis) as conceived in the Middle Ages. The “miraculous” involved supernatural intercessions from God. Miracles came from outside of the phenomenal world, issuing from the spiritual beyond, from an eminent, transcendent realm. The “marvelous” was left over from an earlier era, from a pre-Christian, pagan/Celtic imagination. Marvels were unexplainable wonders. Marvels were not merely strange, for strangeness can give way to explanation through reflection. Marvels remained amazing. However, they were not technically “super-natural” for they stemmed from a world view that did not fracture existence into the physical and the spiritual. Marvels were real, objective, and immanent within phenomenal experience-they just did their wonderful thing apart from and unconcerned with human understanding. If the world is a collection of things, there are the things that you recognize and know, and marvels are not above and beyond these, they are the things in between. Eve Egoyan goes out to play in the marvelous. She is drawn to composers who wonder at music and put together works that can take part in this wonder. The composers gathered here seem to approach musical material as something that they discover outside of themselves and are amazed by; that they experiment with, not to come to conclusions about it and ascribe to it a coherent significance, but rather to keep opening up potentials for amazement. All of this music seems effortlessly resistant to and unconcerned with epiphany. A piece becomes a locus for activity where any listener can come upon personal marvels. And the musical material that is discovered can come from anywhere. It is not just an issue of physical sounds and gestures-musical material involves all the stuff of musical experience: history and culture and politics, all open for consideration from the most personalized to the most generalized points of view. All of the composers here search through their musical worlds and find stuff to transpose and play with, from a beloved Strauss waltz to years of hacking around on an electric guitar, scraping the strings with a pick.
All of these pieces could be discussed in terms of exploring deconstructed margins or the productive subversion of culturalized conventions of apprehension. However, what strikes me most about the composers’ own approaches is the modesty and straight-forward affection they bring to the act of composing. Not that there is anything modest about the potentials of these pieces-each, from the densest to the sparsest, offers an unfettered array of marvelous events and spilling associations for the listener’s ear (equally unfettered) to meander through amazed. Yet each composer, again regardless of the surface complexity of the resulting piece, seems, nonetheless, to have found a way to do just enough to share their own wonder with others. Finnissy and Longton adhere to speculative procedures and bloody-minded discipline to maintain enough distance so that they avoid tampering with unexplainable possibilities. Curran observes what happens when he brings together two musics that do not strive to reach anywhere-the psychedelic simplicity of a song and chorale, reminiscent of Satie, with relentless repetition music-co-existing in fond tribute to his late friend’s desire to bring down to earth and evaporate the elevated (“miraculous”), “elite” aura that pervades much new music practice. Smith respects the marvel she’s discovered and won’t fight her material to make it stay; she won’t grasp it for herself or for the listener. Parkinson is not involved with reduction; he’s not stripping anything away; his work does not come out of argument or opposition. Parkinson is just keenly attentive to small mirabilia that too often stay obscured by being in between.
Eve Egoyan goes out to play in the marvelous but we are not relegated to passive admiration. This music invites us to go out and play in the marvelous as well.
Eve Egoyan / biography
Originally from Victoria, B.C. and currently based in Toronto, Canadian pianist Eve Egoyan specializes in the performance of new solo piano works. “The things in between”, Eve’s first solo CD, is a selection of works which explore the piano’s vast colouristic possibilities in intriquing, often unfamiliar, and magical ways.
Eve has performed a number of North American premières of international composers, including the Spanish composer Maria de Alvear’s two-hour epic piano solo diptych De puro amor and En amor duro at Toronto’s Music Gallery, Scottish composer Judith Weir’s Piano Concerto with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra, and Songs of the East, a piece for soloist and two Disklaviers by the Japanese composer Masahiro Miwa, in Toronto (and again in Kobe, Japan).
Many Canadian composers have written works for Eve, including John Abram, Martin Arnold, Allison Cameron, José Evangelista (Canada Council commission), Rudolph Komorous, Michael Longton (CBC commission), Stephen Parkinson, Linda C. Smith (Canada Council commission), and Ann Southam (CBC commission).
The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has recorded and broadcast Eve’s performances of works by the Canadian composers Michael Longton and Ann Southam, the British composers Michael Finnissy and Judith Weir, and the American composer Alvin Curran.
She has appeared as a soloist in the festivals Rencontres musique écrite/musique improvisée, Montréal; the Vancouver New Music Festival; the Sound Symposium, St. John’s, Newfoundland; Musicora, Paris; and the Kobe International Modern Music Festival, Japan.
Eve trained in standard repertoire at the Victoria Conservatory of Music with Anne Brayshaw and Winifred Scott Wood, the University of Victoria with Eva Solar-Kinderman, the Banff Centre of Fine Arts with György Sebök, the Hochschule der Künste in West Berlin with Georg Sava (German Academic Exchange Scholarship), the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, with Hamish Milne (Commonwealth Scholarship), and in Toronto where she completed her M.Mus. at the University of Toronto with Patricia Parr.