03 Frank Horvat Project DovetailFrank Horvat – Project Dovetail
Frank Horvat; Edwin Huizinga; Elixir Baroque Ensemble; TorQ Percussion Quartet; et al.
Independent (frankhorvat.com/discography)

Toronto composer-pianist Frank Horvat “has carved a niche for himself among today’s composers, wearing his fragile heart on his sleeve,” observed CBC music critic Robert Rowat. Project Dovetail, Horvat’s final release in an album trilogy spanning 2021, follows that emotional thread. Featuring some of Canada’s top chamber musicians, Project Dovetail has an intriguing synesthetic twist. Horvat has taken the art and artists that have inspired him and “dovetailed” aspects of them into his music. Among others, the works of two Canadian artists are featured: best-selling author Suzanne Desrochers and master printmaker Lorna Livey. 

Lorna’s Metamorphosis is a good example of the composer’s synesthetic dovetailing. In it, Livey speaks candidly about her passion for butterflies and the environment. Remarkably, Horvat has accurately scored the rhythms of her voice and then composed a dynamic instrumental counterpoint to it for vibraphone, two marimbas, piano and tympani. The composer notes that “it captures the Lorna I know: determined, honest and kind… compliment[ing] her driving, forward-thinking personality.”

The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour for two violins, viola da gamba and harpsichord takes its cue from scenes in the novel Bride of New France by Desrochers. Horvat depicts the protagonist’s many hardships in music, choosing period instruments to evoke the novel’s 1670s setting. The Sad Life’s four slow movements are all intentionally similar in key, their melancholy melodies receiving straightforward accompaniments. In his program notes Horvat invokes the musical influence of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes in this work, and I can feel the emotional throughlines spanning a century and a third.

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