Concert Reviews

The Art of Touching the Keyboard


1 José Evangelista: Nuevas monodías españolas 12:51

“Playing superbly, Egoyan brought her recital to a breathtaking end with Nuevas monodías españolas by the Spanish composer José Evangelista, who now makes his home in Montreal. Here again was a suite of 21 ephemeral miniatures, each of them built on the bare bones of southern European melody, rhythm, and ornamentation, and all of them free of the sumptuous but sometimes cloying harmonies that you would hear in the piano music of such Spanish composers of the past as Enrique Granados and Isaac Albeniz.”

Douglas Hughes, The Georgia Straight, Vancouver

“… a collection of 21 delightfully eccentric miniatures… “

—Richard Todd, Ottawa Citizen

“… José Evangelista’s stunning Nuevas monodiás españolas, a rosary of 21 archaic Spanish melodies arranged for piano. In each, Evangelista has telescoped a number of possible versions of the same melody, variously ornamented and voiced in different octaves, into a single glittering miniature, with the variations occur simultaneously rather than consecutively. The process yields a resplendant splatter of rhythmic and melodic embellishment. And yet it also reveals an unexpected quality at the heart of these old, modal tunes: a tough and feral magnificence, or a musical survival instinct, if you like. They ought to live on for a few more centuries in this superb reincarnation.”

—Elissa Poole, Globe and Mail

2 Karen Tanaka: Crystalline 5:38

“Egoyan beautifully captured the liquid, marimba-like sonorities and the Debussy-like sensuality of the aptly named Crystalline.”

—Tamara Bernstein, National Post

“Karen Tanaka’s Crystalline explored the imagery of crystals in which flurries and shimmering sprays of treble note ring like icicle chimes. Egoyan’s utterly seamless finger technique made these sounds detach themselves from any impression of physical contact as though they spontaneously manifested themselves.”

—Stephen Pederson, Halifax Chronicle-Herald

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3 Judith Weir: The Art of Touching the Keyboard 9:47

“The interest in the piece was not so much in its harmonic or melodic techniques, though these were very sound, but in artistic and sometimes sensuous exploration of various ways that a pianist’s hands interact with the instrument.”

—Richard Todd, Ottawa Citizen

4 Stephen Parkinson: Trail 20:00

“Trail was lonesome music too, in the way it polarized the far reaches of the piano’s range, each of its movements holding tenuously onto the other with the scrub of a scale, the clink of a small change at the top end, or the thrum of the bass at the bottom.”

—Elissa Poole, Globe and Mail

5 Per Nørgård: Turn 12:32

“Per Nørgård’s Turn showed Egoyan’s astonishing ability to accent any note in a repeating pattern in order to create overlays of melody.”

—Stephen Pedersen, Halifax Chronicle-Herald

“The exuberant Turn…offered pleasure upon pleasure—melodically, in the notes singing out from inner voices of rolling figuration; spatially, as the piece gradually moved out from the centre of the keyboard to embrace the entire instrument; rhythmically, whenever the rolling figures periodically ‘jammed up’ like a collection of metronomes ticking slightly out of synch with each other.“

—Tamara Bernstein, National Post

6 Allison Cameron: Corals of Valais 9:50

“Corals of Valais is built around pairs of soft chords: On the first of each, all but one of the notes instantly fall away like a shell, leaving a single tone ringing—until a second, short chord cuts it off, leaving silence in its wake. The harmonies often set up tonal expectations, then quietly foil them by going off in a different direction. Eight notes of the piano were “prepared” with screws or tin foil inserted between strings; the brittle or buzzing sounds that resulted added an expressive, unpredictable fragility to the piece. The Zen-like, expressive emptiness of Corals fostered an atmosphere of attentive listening…”

—Tamara Bernstein, National Post

“And the paired, spare chords of Allison Cameron’s Corals of Valais—where conventional pulls of dissonance and resolution seemed both inevitable and arbitrary, and where the smudged consonance, or the smeared arpeggio, dissolved for a moment’s awed perusal of the difference between the two—spoke a Spartan language recognizably Cameron’s.”

—Elissa Poole, Globe and Mail