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.”

 

TheWholeNote Worlds Apart Review

02 Worlds Apart

Worlds Apart
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Centrediscs CMCCD 23717

This album can be purchased here.

Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico unleashes the eight works here with such immediacy that she creates a special kind of pianistic excitement. Her technique is brilliant, and her imagination boundless. But it’s not just the thrill of the keyboard that drives her – above all you feel the fierce conviction that underlies her vision of each composer’s score.

This is the latest release in Petrowska Quilico’s ongoing recording project covering works from the Canadian piano repertoire. It’s as though she’s out to singlehandedly show just how rich it is. These works were written during a period of just over 20 years, from 1969 to 1992. They all, more or less directly, invoke historical sources – musical, literary or visual.

Peter Paul Koprowski’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Brahms and Steven Gellman’s Fantasia on a Theme of Robert Schumann take full advantage of Petrowska Quilico’s virtuosity. Koprowski gives the elements of Brahms’ Lullaby a Chopinesque treatment, only gradually revealing the familiar theme, while Gellman introduces his theme, from the slow movement of Schumann’s Piano Quintet, then lavishes embellishments.

In Las Meninas, John Rea follows the structure of his source, Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood. But he filters it through his viewing of Velázquez’s iconic, complex painting, Las Meninas by recasting Schumann’s 13 movements in various composers’ styles – Romanticism, impressionism, minimalism, jazz, and so on. Petrowska Quilico has a field day.

Her energy infuses Patrick Cardy’s mythologically based The Masks of Astarte with narrative force. In contrast, her incisive control allows a sense of space to envelop Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux’s lyrical yet monumental Assemblages like a multidimensional sculpture (I thought of Anthony Caro’s works currently on display at the AGO).

In Quivi Sospiri by David Jaeger (who produced this set, and whose writings appear in this magazine), Petrowska Quilico is joined by computer-generated sounds. The rhapsodic yearnings of the piano confront the ominous electronics, then blend in a moving evocation of the sounds that swirl around the hopeless souls condemned to darkness in Dante’s Inferno.

Diana McIntosh’s atmospheric Worlds Apart, which gives this collection its title, weaves a shimmering fabric of intricate patterns. But it’s Geste by Michel-Georges Brégent, Petrowska Quilico’s first husband, who died in 1993, that forms the spiritual heart of this set – especially in the way he invites the performer’s interventions in shaping what happens and when. Brégent’s own description likens his score, mounted on a scroll, to a Calder mobile. In PQ’s hands the sense of urgency never lets up, even in the contemplative passages.

This set certainly showcases Petrowska Quilico’s talents, including her talent as a painter. The painting by her on the booklet cover, called Other Worlds – Light and Dark, beautifully sets the tone for this terrific collection.

Christina Petrowska Quilico performs works by Michel-Georges Brégent

Concerts / Brégent: Portraits romantiques (1966, version 1988 / extraits)

In the words of Michel-Georges Brégent “The link between emotions and the mathematical is not very obvious. I discovered this to be true in creating Portraits pour piano. I still needed a dramatic rise with a pianist playing as though they were simultaneously 6 pianists playing at once. At some point, I intuitively hit a ceiling… using mathematics, I managed to make this man walk one step further. I also realized that if we speak about an emotion as love, (…) in music this can be expressed mathematically… Express oneself. Express one’s freedom and subjectivity. Extract the coldness and the yoke of rationality and structural “parametric” thought where everything is subject to analysis. These Portraits for the piano draw or depict states yet to be, illustrate social situations, occupations and jobs. They are the logical result complimenting the transcendental executions of Liszt and Liapunov, and the studies of Chopin, Scriabine and Rachmaninoff.”

March 4, 2017    7:00 pm

  • Regular: $20.00
  • Senior: $15.00
  • Student: $15.00
  • Tickets: 514-843-9305 #301 (SMCQ)
Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur
100, rue Sherbrooke Est
métro Sherbrooke + autobus 24 Ouest / métro Saint-Laurent + autobus 55 Nord
 

Participant

Program

Coproduction MNM/ Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur

Phil’s Review of Mozart: Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin

TOP_quilicoMozart: Sonatas and Variations for Piano and Violin Jacques Israelievitch, violin; Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano (Fleur de Son) http://www.a-vcoa.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=290418&module_id=131981&sl=561443509

This is Volume 1 in a series of Mozart works for piano and violin. Sadly, it must also be a memorial to the late violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who died of lung cancer last September 5th, less than two months after he and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico completed the ambitious recording project. That the French-born Canadian violinist persisted in this endeavor in his final illness would be remarkable enough; what is amazing is that there is absolutely no evidence of infirmity in his performances, so full of the rhythms and colors of life, taut and firm, and always endowed with the warmth that Mozart requires. Petrowska Quilico proves the ideal partner for him, in recordings made in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall at York University in Toronto.

In this first volume in the series, we have a selection of Mozart‟s richest and most persuasive sonatas: K.380 in E-flat major, K.454 in B-flat major, and K.526 in A major. Chronologically, they are a study in the development of the genre, from what is basically a piano sonata with violin accompaniment to one in which the violin has clearly achieved an equal partnership. The slow movements, in particular, contain some of Mozart‟s most beautiful melodies. They are also different kinds of melodies. The Andante of K.380 has a haunting quality that is enhanced by chromatic inflections. The slow movement of K.454 is another Andante, but with more of the feeling of an Adagio, the violin now is entrusted with the prominent melody. Bold chromatic moduations add to its intriguing beauty. In K.526, the most mature sonata Mozart ever wrote, the slow movement, likewise an Andante, has an extended development, which was rare for the period. It even modulates for a while into A minor with no apparent hurry to end on the major key, traditionally the signal for the finale to begin. Mozart was evidently taken with the beguiling melody and in no haste to return to the main event. Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico obviously enjoy the wealth of melody and the increasingly rich chromatic harmonies in these three works, so reminiscent in many ways of his writing in the operas with which they were contemporary, from Abduction from the Seraglio to The Marriage of Figaro. The joy of music making is evident in every single measure. Highly recommended. (If this CD doesn‟t win one of Canada‟s Juno Awards next April, there‟s no justice.) Phil’s review.

Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico hosts This Is My Music

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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