Yorkville’s Christina Petrowska Quilico tackles life and death in Worlds Apart

Two-CD album an homage to fallen colleagues

Christina-leg-up-on-piano-by-Bo-Huang-55

PHOTO COURTESY BO HUANG

STORMY NIGHT: Christina Petrowska Quilico launched Worlds Apart in April as an homage to some of her fallen colleagues.

Engage Christina Petrowska Quilico in a conversation about the creative arts, and she’ll take you on a tour of her paintings in her Yorkville home.

Two of those paintings, Light and Dark, were used in crafting the cover of her two CD album, World Apart.

“I do a lot of painting. It’s important to have this inter-relation of arts,” she says, with a teacup Yorkie in her lap. A pug runs around at her feet, adding a splash of grey on a white-on-white décor.

Mixing arts is the foundation of her work these days. Worlds Apart pays tribute to both literature and the classic composers. Those arts provided the inspiration.

The first CD is Classics with a Twist, and features the romantic, light side of her piano work. Compositions by John Rea, Peter Paul Koprowski and Steven Gellman. The second CD is Worlds Apart, the same as the collection, and features works by David Jaeger, Michel-Georges Brégent, Patrick Cardy, Diana McIntosh and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux. It’s the dark half to the first.

Petrowska Quilico shares a happy anecdote about her late mother sharing a moment with Koprowski when he paid Quilico a visit. Being of Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian ancestry, her mother could speak with Koprowski, who was Polish.

“Before he came, but I used to play pieces for her and she had the best objective criticism. She either got or she didn’t,” Quilico recalls. “She said that sounds a lot like Chopin.”

Of course, Koprowski’s piece is “Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms”, so Petrowska Quilico shrugged it off.

“My mother chatted with him in Polish, and they’re both looking at me smiling, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh, no’,” she says. “And then the composer said to me, ‘You know your mom is right, it is Chopin’.”

There are plenty of stories from her past that bubble to the surface, and are pleading to be told. She restrains herself, but remembers the highlights.

She performs one song, “Geste” by her first husband, Brégent, who died at the age of 45.

Cardy and Saint-Marcoux are two other composers, and close friends, who died young.

She falls into a rueful moment, remembering another fallen colleague Jacques Israelievitch, as the two had recorded plenty of sonatas during Fancies and Interludes. More music will be released from the seven and a half hour sit down, which was first launched in June, 2015.

“I was glad to have continued with Mozart,” she said.

She’ll be performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which will be another tough moment, as the last time she performed Israelievitch was the concertmaster.

Still, she’s warm in knowing she’s accomplished her homage to some of her friends and past collaborators.

“What I enjoy is doing things by hand. My art is not working with computers, but with hands,” she says. “There needs to be something said about just the purity of music, and just reading a book.”

 

LaScena Worlds Apart Album Review

Christina Petrowska Quilico: Worlds Apart (Centrediscs)

MyScena

Worlds Apart
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Centrediscs, 2017. CMCCD 23717, 2 CD. 88 min 13 s.

 

Christina Petrowska Quilico dropped a new album today – a cross-section of Canadian piano repertoire – that features a wide variety of post-modern compositional techniques. In this two-CD set, the first disc is entitled Classics with a Twist – a way to dip your big toe in the pool before jumping in headfirst in the second. With overt references to the titans of Romantic piano repertoire – Schumann, Brahms, and Chopin – Rea, Koprowski, and Gellman dish up the familiar in surprising ways. The second CD features the namesake of the collection, Worlds Apart by Diana McIntosh, as well as “edgier” and darker works by David Jaeger, Michel-Georges Brégent, Patrick Cardy,Diana McIntosh, and Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux.

John Rea’s Las Meninas – named after a Velázquez painting that depicts the aritst in the act of capturing the likeness of Philip IV and his wife, Mariana of Austria who are only seen reflected in a mirror – is a series of 21 variations in 13 movements on Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood.” Each a slight view into a different perspective of composers past and present, the variations achieve a lot with very little. The second homage in the set is to fellow Canadian composer Alexina Louie directly quotes Debussy’s “Pagodes.” An allusion to her Chinese heritage, perhaps? Though, I have to admit that’s when I gave up the game – aside from the obvious and often literal references, I don’t have nearly an encyclopedic enough knowledge of piano repertoire to trace the origin of every thread found in Rea’s rich tapestry. Petrowska Quilico has a wonderful touch in these miniatures, an intrinsic understanding of voicing that lends itself well to creating each atmosphere with due expediency.

Published around the same time, Peter Paul Koprowski’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms was premiered by Petrowska Quilico at the Winnipeg New Music Festival back when she was known only by one name. The Brahms theme, his Lullaby, is well-hidden in the weeds of elaborate neo-Romantic Chopinesque figurations, handily executed by Petrowska Quilico without becoming too overwrought. Written for Angela Hewitt, Steven Gellman’s Fantasia on a Theme by Schumann has a French air to it like the previous two works, but has much more in common with the overtly pianistic Rhapsody than Rea’s take on Schumann. It’s also the darkest of the three, with tremolo bass that leads well into the second disc.

David Jaeger’s Quivi Sospiri for piano and synth, composed in the ‘70s but revised in 2014, is a dark and otherworldly depiction of Canto 3 of Dante’s Inferno, in which there is no light but only sound. Geste by Petrowska Quilico’s late first husband, Michel-Georges Brégent, is an aleatoric work with graphic notation and mobiles reminiscent of Alexander Calder that resists fixity with broad dramatic gestures. Cardy’s The Masks of Astarte draws on the myth of the ancient Middle Eastern goddess of fertility, who some believe was the prototypical Virgin Mary. The masks here are fleeting glimpses of truth, musical lines that point to something larger but which turn away at the last moment and become something else entirely.

Diana McIntosh’s Worlds Apart also evokes the celestial with water-droplets of colour that gain a compelling rhythmic vitality before gradually receding into the same ether from which it emerged, barring the abrupt perfect fifth ending devoid of a tonal centre. The final piece, Assemblages by Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux is taken from a 1972 archival recording of Petrowska Quilico at a SMCQ concert. With indeterminate pitch and rhythmic elements, it is in much of the same spirit as Geste and is very evocative of Morton Feldman’s work.

Though all the pieces featured in this collection are Canadian works and “contemporary” by most standards, I found it stunning I am the same age or younger than each. Yet, in several cases, Petrowska Quilico is still the only recording artist to devote studio time to these works, all of which deserve second, third, multiple hearings. For this, the collection is not only a great service to the Canadian musical landscape, but a testament to Petrowska Quilico’s sweeping vision.

 

ICI Musique Worlds Apart Review

Par
Frédéric Cardin

Christina Petrowska Quilico : championne du piano 100% canadien

Christina Petrowska Quilico
Album: WORLDS APART

La pianiste canadienne Christina Petrowska Quilico aime bien surprendre le public avec des choix de programmes musicaux qui sortent des sentiers battus. C’est le cas avec son nouvel album Worlds Apart, sorti sous étiquette Centredisques et où elle nous fait découvrir un tas de compositeurs Canadiens, encore peu connus dans le grand public en général.

Christina Petrowska Quilico: Fantasia on a Theme of Schumann

Christina Petrowska Quilico (elle a été mariée au baryton Louis Quilico, duquel elle a conservé le nom) a fait de la musique contemporaine canadienne une spécialité. Elle est une musicienne très sensible, en plus de posséder une solide technique, ce qui en fait une interprète recherchée par nos créateurs. Qui plus est, elle est manifestement passionnée par la nouvelle musique, ce qui s’entend tout de suite quand on l’écoute jouer.

L’album est double. Sur le premier disque, un concept qui sert de ligne directrice : la musique de compositeurs romantiques revisitée par des contemporains canadiens. Las meninas de John Rea en est le pilier principal. Il s’agit d’une reprise des fameuses Scènes d’enfants de Robert Schumann, où chaque morceau se retrouve traité selon le style musical d’un autre compositeur (de Chopin à Glass en passant par Vivier, Stravinsky et bien d’autres). L’idée est géniale, et agit comme une sorte de mise en abîme musicale à 3 niveaux : John Rea revisite un tas de compositeurs qui « revisitent » Robert Schumann.

On a aussi une Fantaisie sur un thème de Brahms de Peter Paul Koprowski et une deuxième, la Fantaisie sur un thème de Robert Schumann (encore!), par Steven Gellman.

Si le 1er disque met de l’avant des esthétique se situant au carrefour du modernisme et du romantisme, le 2e fait place à des œuvres enracinées dans l’atonalisme contemporain.

Quilico est une artiste totalement engagée dans sa passion de mieux faire connaître les compositeurs d’ici. C’est une passion que je partage entièrement. Des artistes comme elle, et des albums comme celui-ci, sont essentiels. Merci.

Christina Petrowska Quilico sera en concert au festival Montréal Nouvelles Musiques (MNM) le 4 mars. Elle y interprétera la musique du Québécois Michel-Georges Brégent.

Mozart: Sonatas & Variations for Piano & Violin, Vol. 1 / Israelievitch, Quilico

Review Vancouver

Release Date: 06/10/2016
Label:  Fleur De Son   Catalog #: 58034   Spars Code: DDD
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performers:  Jacques Israelievitch,  Christina Petrowska Quilico
Number of Discs: 1  

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This is the last joint collaboration by the duo of pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico and the late violinist Jacques Israelievitch, the recording of Mozart’s complete catalogue of violin and piano sonatas. The first of six CDs was released June 10 on the American label Fleur de Son (FDS 58034) and distributed by Naxos.  Copies are available on iTunes (electronic) and Amazon.com (physical and digital), and through numerous other digital service providers and retailers..

Volume 1 comprises 71 minutes of late sonatas along with a set of variations. It features the sonatas in E flat, K. 380; B flat, K.454; and A, KV 526; and Six Variations on a French Song (“Hélas, j’ai perdu mon amant”), K. 360. The music from these artists was beautiful and virtuosic, dynamic on the part of Quilico and finesse from the violin sounds of Israelievitch.

Jacques Israelievitch who passed away last year of lung cancer graduated from the Paris Conservatory at 16, and was a winner at the International Paganini Competition.  He was the concertmaster for 20 years with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and was an officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters and a member of the Order of Canada.

Professor Quilico teaches Music at York University in Toronto. She has performed with the Toronto Symphony, TaiPei Symphony Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony, the National Arts Orchestra, etc. Her 40 CDs include solo, chamber and orchestral works. Four of her CDs have been nominated for Junos in the Best Classical Composition Category. Her CDs include 8 Canadian piano concerti with the Toronto Symphony, Jukka Pekka Saraste, conductor, Vancouver CBC Symphony, Sir John Eliot Gardiner to name a few.

© 2016 Ed Farolan

Christina Petrowska Quilico on recording with late TSO Concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch

Christina Petrowska Quilico on recording with late TSO Concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch

National

TSO President & CEO Jeff Melanson and Principal Trumpet Andrew McCandless speak with pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico about recording with late TSO Concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch.

Listen Here

Piano Animals III Concert on April 12th

Piano Animals III : Christina Petrowska Quilico presents Remembering Ann Southam

April 12th at 8:00 p.m.

$15 regular, $10 students/seniors/artists

Concert @ Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, 100, rue Sherbrooke E, Montreal

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Ann Southam‘s hypnotic epics of thread and pattern, Glass Houses and Rivers, are the focus of the final concert of our series. Presented by the internationally acclaimed Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, whose friendship and collaboration with Ann Southam was deeply implicated in their creation, these complex, maximinimalist works unite intricate groove with an almost ritual intensity.

Christina Petrowska Quilico needs little introduction to audiences both here and abroad. Hailed by the New York Times at 14 for her “promethean talent” after making her orchestral debut along with Murray Perahia, Christina Petrowska Quilico has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and Merkin Hall. Juilliard-trained, she has premiered 18 piano concertos and premiered well over 150 new works. Among her 37 CD titles are eight piano concertos. 4 of her CDs received Juno nominations, and she was named one of 20 international “not to miss pianists” of 2014 by the CBC. Her recording ofGlass Houses Revisited was on CBC Music’s “TOP 30 best Canadian classical recordings ever”.

“The repetitive and pulsating music of Glass Houses is celebrated with shimmering brilliance, as much by the creator as by the interpreter… an homage and luminous musical gift from a pianist to a composer friend, and from this friend to a great contemporary mentor.” – Frédéric Cardin, espace.mu (Radio-Canada).

Piano Animals III : Christina Petrowska Quilico présente Remembering Ann Southam

12 avril 2016, 20h
régulier 15$, réduit (étudiants / ainés / artistes) 10$
concert

Les épopées hypnotiques de fils et de canevas d’Ann Southam Glass Houses et Rivers, seront la pièce maîtresse du concert final de notre série. Présentés par la pianiste canadienne Christina Petrowska Quilico dont l’amitié et la collaboration avec Ann Southam est très présente dans leur processus de création, ces oeuvres minimales et complexes mèlent les rythmiques avec une intensité quasi rituelle.

Il n’est généralement point besoin de présenter la pianiste Christina Petrowska Quilico au public canadien comme de l’étranger. Acclamée par le New York Times dès l’âge de 14 ans pour son talent prométhéen lors de ses débuts orchestraux avec Murray Perahia, Christina Petrowska Quilico s’est produite au Carnegie Hall, au Alice Tully Hall ansi qu’au Lincoln Center et au Merkin Hall. Instruite à Juilliard, elle a créé 18 concertos pour piano ainsi que plus de 150 oeuvres. Sa collection de 37 disques inclue huit concertos pour piano, et quatre de ses albums se sont vus nominés aux prix Juno. En 2014 elle a fait partie de la liste des 20 pianistes “à ne pas manquer” de Radio-Canada.

« La musique répétitive et pulsative de Glass Houses est célébrée ici avec un éclat chatoyant, tant par la créatrice que par l’interprète… une offrande musicale respectueuse et lumineuse d’une pianiste à une amie compositrice, et de cette amie à un grand mentor contemporain. » – Frédéric Cardin, espace.mu (Radio-Canada).

Glass Houses Revisited

Great review of Glass Houses Revisited. 

by Grego Applegate Edwards

Ann Southam, Glass Houses Revisited, Christina Petrowska Quilico

The late Ann Southam produced some of the most original and distinctive minimalist music to be heard. On May 22, 2014 here I covered Glass Houses Volume 2, a significant collection of some of her solo piano works performed beautifully by Christina Petrowska Quilico.Thanks to Centrediscs, we can explore the first volume of this collection (Centrediscs 16511) today. It is every bit as worthwhile as the second volume, maybe even more so.

Southam’s solo piano works are like tongue twisters, or learning to rub your stomach and jump up and down at the same time, only a great deal more rewarding in result. That has to do with the rhythmically distinctive contrasts between the left-hand ostinatos and the melodic figurations of the right hand. They mesh in tempo but have often enough the feel of contrasting meters.

Add to that the primal diatonic irresistibility of the right-handed melodic figures, which are rhythmically vibrant and far from banal, but instead memorable in the best ways. When meshed with the swirling ostinato figures the music has the trance magic of the very best minimalist works, yet utterly original, utterly Southam-esque.

This is by no means easy music to play properly, in spite of the diatonics. Christina Petrowska Quilico gives them a combination of legato lyricism and a rhythmic swing that make of the music all it should be.

Volume one covers nine of the “Glass Houses” movements, each one a miniature of happy complexities and lyrical drive. Here is a wonderful place to start if you don’t know Ann Southam’s music. If you already do it is more for you, most dedicatedly performed and exciting as well as reassuring. RIP, Ann Southam. May your music delight our ears in the centuries ahead!

Buy Glass Houses Revisited

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