Huddersfield Festival reviews

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Alongside those scores, Catlin Smith’s music seemed joyously straightforward. Eve Egoyan played two of her piano pieces – The Underfolding, an exploration of dense, dark harmonies, and Nocturnes and Chorales, a sequence of spare miniatures of lonely melodies and lingering harmonic sequences. Quatuor Bozzini played two string quartets, Gondola and Folkestone, which confirmed Catlin Smith’s fondness for constructing large-scale form from musical vignettes, just as her Piano Quintet (in which Philip Thomas joined the Bozzinis) showed how refined her tonal and harmonic palette is. The biggest compliment one can pay any composer in today’s crowded musical world is to say that their music has a distinctive voice. Catlin Smith’s undoubtedly has that. – The Guardian

But not every piece needed such elaborate technical means. Two piano pieces from American composer Linda Catlin Smith, beautifully played by Eve Egoyan, showed how much undiscovered richness still lurks within the familiar grand piano when it’s played in the time-honoured way at the keyboard, instead of tormenting its viscera with a plectrum. In Nocturnes and Chorales, gently furled chords which came close to Debussy were offset with a tolled note that seemed to come from miles away. The familiar and the strange joined hands, in a beautiful and unsettling way. – The Telegraph

The first was a piano recital by Eve Egoyan, also from Canada, given on Saturday morning (November 18) in St Paul’s Hall. There were two works on the programme. The Underfolding is a sensuous evocation of stillness, achieved through the piling up of exquisite dissonances held together with liberal use of the pedal. This soft and sensitive sound world recalls Morton Feldman – though this is not Feldman. Indeed, this is a solo piano piece that exploits the instrument’s resources fully in the tradition of those other masters of the genre, Liszt and Ravel. Just 18 minutes long, The Underfolding takes the listener through a truly awesome landscape, its occasional jazzy modality imbuing it with a sense of North American melancholy. A masterpiece thoughtfully and sensitively performed.

Egoyan then played Smith’s Nocturnes and Chorales, nine short, contrasting movements that again seemed to reach back in time. The experimental take is still there, but it is coupled with a poised approach to piano composition. There is something strange but at the same time familiar about the piece.

This music is all about touch and its execution was graceful and elegant. It was very suited to this splendid venue, a converted church close to the Huddersfield University campus.

Someone coming to Smith’s music for the first time will not find it easy listening – but its inherent beauty makes it very approachable. And this audience was rapt. – The Huddersfield Daily Examiner