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.

 

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.

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

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.

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

Christina Petrowska Quilico finding peace in contemporary music

Ottawa Citizen

Some composers write for themselves. Others write for a muse, a vessel for their genius. But when a composer and a performer develop true complicity, the writing happens with, not for, and both are enriched.

Pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico and composer Ann Southam enjoyed a 30-year personal and professional friendship that lasted until Southam’s death from lung cancer in 2010.  Southam’s eventual complete shift from electronic to acoustic music was due in no small part to Petrowska Quilico’s influence; the two met in 1979 when the composer asked the pianist, who was teaching at York University and was already established as a champion of Canadian music, to record a demo.

“I remember thinking ‘boy, these tempo markings are really slow’,” Petrowska Quilico recalls. “I mean, it was one of the dullest things I’d ever played. At the time I was seven or eight months pregnant; I figured Ann couldn’t get…

View original post 534 more words

Tango Brasileiros WholeNote review

Tango Brasileiros WholeNote review

“Equally world-renowned and the 2007 winner of the Friends of Canadian Music Award, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico performs the tangos of Brazilian composer/pianist Ernesto Júlio de Nazareth (1863–1934) in the two-CD release Tangos Brasileiros. Touches of salon music and the romanticism of Chopin are evident in these tangos, which are quicker in tempo than their Argentinean relatives. There is so much heartfelt joy in the pianist’s performances of 24 of the composers’ piano works. In her liner notes titled “My Personal Tango Journey,” she attributes her agility in style, musicality and placement of downbeat to her years in the dance studio learning how to dance the tango. I agree completely. The famous Fon-Fon is driven by a zippy right hand melody which is partnered by a two-feet-grounded-on-the-floor pulse. The more traditional Perigoso – Tango Brasileiro is a swaying, sultry and steady performance with intriguing brief yet breathtaking silences. Most fun are the left hand low-pitched lines in Myosotis. Deep and rich in tone, they act as a perfect mate to the jovial salon music-like right hand melodies. Throughout, Petrowska Quilico’s well-contemplated rhythmic placements and gentler finger attacks create the sense of melodic spontaneity so important to tango music.”

Written by Tiina KiikPublished on 30 October 2013Category: Pot Pourri