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.”

 

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.

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

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.

Fancies and Interludes – Christina Petrowska Quilico; Jacques Israelievitch – Canadian Music Centre Review

Fancies and Interludes

Fancies and Interludes is both a labour of love and musical declaration, intuited and played by two ingenious and accomplished musicians – former Toronto Symphony concertmaster Jacques Israelievitch and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico. Recorded live at York University’s Tribute Communities Recital Hall, it has the immediacy and the vigour of a live performance (background sounds of pages being turned included), which makes the music come alive with the splendour of the excitement (or the sorrow) of each precious phrase as it was played in the moment…”

Purchase Fancies and Interludes

See the full review here.