Review: International Piano

International Piano

September/October 2006

“Canadian pianist Eve Egoyan’s pianism has strengths in abundance, fully justifying Michael Finnissy’s testimony that ‘she illuminates the music she plays; an alchemy, authenticity and fearlessness’. Finnissy’s ERIK SATIE, like anyone else (2002) is the longest and most ambiguous piece on Egoyan’s disc documenting her recent commissions. The significance of Finnissy’s title reveals itself in a programme note that’s as multi-complex as his score – ‘like anyone else. But not like anyone else. Not quite belonging. Losing himself in his music,’ Finnissy writes before dropping the listener into a labyrinth of cultural and musical references. Like the best Finnissy ERIK SATIE builds itself from an intense engagement with a sympathetic subject – heavily stripped down monodies are met with flurries of rhythmic activity, while the music refreshes its impetus midway by falling into a Le Six-like march. The true spirit of Satie is revitalised by Finnissy’s stringent aloofness and a compulsive-obsessive atmosphere. There’s a similar obsessive quality about both works by Martin Arnold and James Tenney. Arnold’s Herl (2003) uses familiar tonal patternings, but stretches them into an alien landscape where the syntax of cadences can’t quite function. Tenney’s To Weave (2003) take a simple melodic motif and embroiders it with regenerative layering over a ten-minute span. Some of Tenney’s early electronic music functions similarly, and he knows how to challenge predictability with terse structuring. Jo kondo’s monumental Metaphonesis (2001) deals in barren chords and subterranean pedalled tones that emerge from the shadows like Orson Welles’s sly entrance in The Third Man. Egoyan’s granite tone is appropriate and subtly deployed.” -Philip Clark