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.
Fancies and Interludes includes four duos for violin and piano by contemporary Canadian composers. The title track belongs to the last piece on the album, the lengthy and rich Fancies and Interludes VI by Raymond Luedeke, a prolific composer and former TSO clarinetist who wrote this composition especially for Jacques Israelievitch. Five Fancies are framed by Six Interludes, starting as a somewhat fragmented conversation between two vastly different voices and resolving in a harmonious ending.
On the other hand, the album opens with the strong momentum of Oskar Morawetz’s Duo for violin and piano. This piece grabs the listener right away, taking them on the journey from the rhythmical flow of the beginning to the deep lament in a Phrygian D-minor in the last section. Nestled in between are Drop by James Rolfe, my personal favourite on this recording, a fascinating musical travel from earth to heaven and back, and ...and dark time flowed by her like a river, by another composer with a TSO connection, composer-adviser Gary Kulesha. The work is a play between tonal and atonal, reflecting a search for the meaning of a moment in time.
The programming on this CD is exquisite – the compositions flow one after another as if they were meant to be. Israelievitch and Petrowska Quilico allow the impulse, the urge to soar and expand in their playing while granting the listener a breathing space – the true embodiment of Fancies and Interludes.
Editor’s Note: Jacques Israelievitch, who enjoyed an international career as a soloist, conductor and teacher, died September 5. He was 67 years old. He was diagnosed with aggressive, metastatic lung cancer in late February this year. Israelievitch had the distinction of being the longest-serving concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Retiring in 2008 after 20 years, he joined the faculty of York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, as professor of violin and viola. On August 14, in a special ceremony at his home, Israelievitch was presented with the Order of Canada, one of this country’s highest civilian orders, recognizing outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation for nearly three decades. Although Fancies and Interludes was the last CD released during his lifetime, Isrealievitch and Christina Petrowska Quilico completed recording Mozart’s 28 violin sonatas last May. The CDs will be released in 2016.