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.

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.

Glass Houses Complete Collection

 

GLASS HOUSES: Complete collection

“This is nothing short of miraculous…That Petrowska Quilico can perform these nine pieces is an achievement in itself; that it makes for mesmerizing listening is the magic of art.” – John Terauds, Toronto Star

“This is difficult and nuanced music, and Christina Petrowska Quilico is entirely up to the challenge. […] These performances are deeply musical and affecting.” – American Record Guide

Presented together for the first time: Glass Houses Revisited and Glass Houses Vol. 2 together in a box set for the complete collection of Ann Southam’s mammoth “Glass Houses” as performed by virtuoso pianist, Christina Petrowska Quilico.

Ann Southam was a close friend and musical collaborator of Christina Petrowska Quilico for almost 30 years. Petrowska Quilico began performing her music in 1981 and has recorded a number of her major works for piano. Glass Houses Revisited (Centrediscs) was the third collection and the first recording of this cycle and remains Centrediscs’ best-selling CD of all time. It was nominated for a JUNO for Best Classical Composition in 2012. Glass Houses Vol. 2 completes the entire set of “Glass Houses” for Centrediscs.

Passion and sensitivity, phenomenal technique and “dazzling virtuosity” (New York Times) characterize pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, whether she is playing a Liszt piano solo, a Mozart chamber work, the Grieg concerto or the premiere of a new work by a living composer. Her 30-some recorded titles encompass contemporary works by Canadian and International composers as well as standard repertoire.

Born in Winnipeg, Ann Southam (1937-2010) completed musical studies at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Southam’s works have been commissioned through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and continue to be performed in Canada, Europe and the United States. She was honoured with the Order of Canada, and earned a posthumous JUNO nomination for Best Classical Composition in 2012.

Available for purchase through the Canadian Music Centre:

https://www.musiccentre.ca/node/137236

Remembering Jacques Israelievitch

jacques

Much has been written about Jacques Israelievitch and his remarkable career since his untimely death on September 5, 2015. Instead of repeating his extensive biography, I want to write about him from the heart, as a dear friend and esteemed colleague. His wonderful qualities as a kind, gentle and spiritual man made him an extraordinary musician and artist. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather.

I loved the way he called his wife, Gabrielle, “angel” and held her hand. I loved the way he beamed with pride when speaking about his three sons and two grandchildren. I loved the way he cared about his students, musical friends and artists. I loved the way he Skyped his mother in France almost every time we rehearsed. I loved the way he always encouraged, supported and inspired me during concerts and recording.

As a musician, Jacques was always “on.” When we met to sight-read for fun, he expected concert tempo. Every rehearsal and performance was expected to be at the highest artistic level. He knew when to push and be demanding as a concertmaster, soloist, collaborator and conductor. He was just as critical of himself, always expecting as much from himself as from others. I was fortunate enough to have also been soloist in two piano concerti with Jacques conducting. It was his strength, leadership, warmth and camaraderie that elevated all the performers.

What really made Jacques unique and stand out in my memory in these last few months, while facing such devastating illness, was his ability to continue performing at such an unbelievable level. We were in the midst of giving concerts and recording the complete Mozart violin and piano sonatas, all 28 of them, at York, when he learned about his illness. It didn’t stop him. We also released a CD of Canadian repertoire on Centrediscs, Fancies and Interludes, which we had recorded live in one take a few years earlier. We gave a performance of selected works from the CD for the launch party on June 11 at the Canadian Music Centre. This was one of his last performances. Jacques had wanted to perform as much as possible in the last months. In spite of pain, Jacques never complained, never questioned, and made sure that every rehearsal, every concert was the best musical experience we could have.

Both of us were mad for Mozart and wanted to enjoy every opportunity to make music. He didn’t even complain when the piano in a concert hall was digital. He said that we would concentrate on the marvellous Mozart. He told me, and his family, that this was the happiest summer of his life. He savoured every note, every phrase that he played. Jacques also made sure to play chamber music with as many friends as he could. He never lost his sense of humour, and our rehearsals were filled with joy and fun. If either of us made a mistake, we would laugh. He was never judgmental and we were both open to trying out new musical ideas. Never one to gossip, he still did enjoy a good story. During breaks, we would take turns venting or trading jokes. In spite of the extreme pain and fatigue, he insisted on finishing our marathon of recordings and our mood was bittersweet when we finished. He kept asking me to record more, even a few days before his death. He called this project our Mount Everest. What a gift and legacy these recordings will be. We played the sonatas with love and affection for Mozart, who has been in our souls and heart throughout. I couldn’t have asked for a better musical partner or colleague. He cherished every musical line and nuance of the sonatas. It was inspired playing. Jacques and I appeared together July 11 at Chautauqua, performing the last four Mozart sonatas. Nobody realized that this would be his final concert. The experience was magical. His playing was moving, heartfelt, strong and always honest and true to the score.

It was so difficult to say goodbye to such a dear friend. Gradually, a sense of joy returned, as I became overwhelmed with the beauty of the music and Jacques’ extraordinary playing. I realize now that we will never really lose him. His artistry and musicianship will live forever in his recordings and our memories of the wonderful person that was Jacques Israelievitch.

His friend,

Christina Petrowska Quilico

Also published here by The WholeNote.

JACQUES ISRAELIEVITCH & CHRISTINA PETROWSKA QUILICO LAUNCH FIRST JOINT CD, FANCIES AND INTERLUDES

A Centrediscs release

JACQUES ISRAELIEVITCH & CHRISTINA PETROWSKA QUILICO

LAUNCH FIRST JOINT CD, FANCIES AND INTERLUDES JUNE 11

JacquesandChristina

Two of Canada’s finest musical soloists team up in a new Centrediscs CD of 20th century music, launching June 11.

Jacques Israelievitch and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico are featured in their first CD collaboration, Fancies and Interludes (CMCCD 21315), comprising works by four established Canadian composers.

It launches Thursday, June 11, 5 p.m. at the Canadian Music Centre, 20 St. Joseph St., Toronto. The artists will give a short performance of some of the featured music. Admission is free, but reservations are required, by phoning 416-961-6601 ext. 201, or e-mailing rsvp@musiccentre.ca.

Lyrical, jazzy and complex, Fancies and Interludes is a collection of contrasts – from the lyrical, contemporary classicism of Oskar Morawetz’s Duo to the quirky, minimalist jazziness of James Rolfe’s Drop; and juxtaposing primal rhythms and tonal colours of Raymond Luedeke’s monumental Fancies and Interludes VI. Gary Kulesha’s seductive and passionate …and dark time flowed by her like a river… (inspired by a line from Thomas Wolfe`s posthumously published novel, The Web and the Rock) also features complex rhythmic structures, along with virtuoso parts for both instruments.

The CD was recorded at a concert in the Tribune Communities Recital Hall, York University, in 2012. It was digitally edited and remastered by David Jaeger.

The CD will be available from the Canadian Music Centre, www.musiccentre.ca.

Jacques Israelievitch (www.israelievitch.com/jacques.html) was the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster for a record-setting 20 years. He has also appeared as soloist with many major orchestras and conductors, and performed chamber music with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma, and is violinist for the New Arts Trio. As a conductor, he has been music director of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra since 2005. In his discography of more than 100 albums are the first complete recording of Kreutzer’s 42 Studies, and concertos, including ones he has premiered. He is an officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters, and holds a Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada.

Christina Petrowska Quilico (www.petrowskaquilico.com), hailed by the New York Times at 14 for her “promethean talent,” has appeared at Lincoln Center, and as soloist with orchestras in Canada, the US, Greece and Taiwan; and premiered over 150 new works, including 18 piano concertos. CBC Music named her one of 20 international “not to miss pianists” of 2014 and one of Canada’s “Top 25 Classical Pianists” in 2015. Her CD Glass Houses Revisited was one of CBC Music’s “Top 30 best Canadian classical recordings ever”, included on two other CBC top 10 lists, and is one of Centrediscs’ all-time best-sellers. Her 36 CDs range from contemporary to standard repertoire, four of the titles JUNO-nominated. She was named a Friend of Canadian Music and was one of the Canadian Music Centre’s 50 Ambassadors.

As a duo, Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico gave a day-long performance of all 28 sonatas and variations for violin and piano by Mozart in a one-day marathon concert in 2014. They have just completed recording them for a series that will be distributed by a major label in the near future. They also collaborated as conductor and pianist when Petrowska Quilico performed two Canadian works in one concert with the Koffler Chamber Orchestra – Violet Archer’s Divertimento for piano and strings and Heather Schmidt’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Petrowska Quilico will perform Schmidt’s fourth piano concerto with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and conductor Kristian Alexander, Thursday, June 25 at the Flato Markham Theatre. More details are at www.KSOrchestra.ca.

Centrediscs, recording label of the Canadian Music Centre, with 7 JUNO Awards and 35 nominations, 7 ECMAs and 14 nominations and 10 WCMAs and 9 nominations to date was created in 1981 as Canada’s foremost label of Canadian contemporary concert music, recording the works of its CMC Associate Composers. Visit www.centrediscs.ca for more information.

The Canadian Music Centre oversees the music of the largest community of professional Canadian composers. The CMC offers an on-demand publishing service, music repertoire consultations, does extensive outreach events and marketing through its five Regional Centres and is easily accessible through its extensive interactive website. CMC also promotes the work of its Associate Composers through its Publishing unit and the five lending libraries of more than 24,000 scores and 14,000 related archival recordings plus some 1,400 commercially recorded CD titles.

– 30 –

 

For further information, contact:

 

Linda Litwack

416-782-7837

e-mail: lalitwack@rogers.com                                                                 May 21, 2015

Pronunciations:

Jacques Israelievitch – zhahk is-RAIL-yuh-vitch (zh as su in measure)

Petrowska Quilico – pet-TROV-ska (e as in get)  KWIL-i-koh

Glass Houses Revisited reviews

Glass Houses Revisited (Music of Ann Southam):

One of The 30-best-Canadian-classical-recordings-ever CBC Music (on a list with Glenn Gould`s recordings of the Bach Goldberg Variations, and other major classics)

One of 10 Pieces of Classical Music Everyone Should Know CBC Music (on a list with Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Strauss, Bizet and Copland).

One of 10 Piano Pieces Everyone Should Know CBC Music (along with works by Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven, Ravel, Liszt, Glass, Bach and Handel)

“This recording is the result of an extended collaboration – and friendship – between the distinguished Canadian composer Ann Southam and her most devoted interpreter, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico. Petrowska Quilico selected an assortment of pieces from Southam’s 1981 Glass Houses series, then added her own spin with the composer’s blessing. She describes them as ‘fiendishly difficult etudes’ played at breakneck speed. Petrowska Quilico manages the technical demands with supreme virtuosity and creates a complex sound tapestry that pays personal tribute to one of Canada’s most engaging musical figures.” – Denise Ball, CBC Music Classical/blogs:The-30-best-Canadian-classical-recordings-ever

“Christina Petrowska Quilico…exhibits enormous strength, stamina and an amazingly crisp, clean articulation.” – Art Lange, Fanfare Magazine, reviewing Mystic Streams

“She has a remarkably luminous tone that draws the listener to the music in a way that not many pianists can manage.” – American Record Guide, reviewing Northern Sirens

“Petrowska is …an excellent musician, technically skillful and interpretively sound. She knows her way through the thorny thickets of Messiaen, Boulez, and the other contemporary composers, delivering their strange rhythms and discords effectively. I’m particularly taken by hearing the eerie sounds of the Boulez sonata again.” – American Record Guide, July/August 2003, reviewing Gems with an Edge