Like so many things in life, the inverted U-shaped curve best represents the ideal balance of exposure and mystery within a solo recording. Too much unveiling leaves nothing to the imagination in its fulsome exposition. Conversely, an unwillingness to unmask and musically disclose (the so-called “warts and all”), can come across as coy and not revelatory enough to strike a personal connection between artist and listener. But, when the forces align and an appropriate balance is struck, there is often magic contained within the performance that follows. Such is the case with Montréal Musica, a fine new recording by respected pianist, chamber musician and pedagogue Marc Bourdeau on Centrediscs, the record label of the Canadian Music Centre.
Spanning nearly a century of Canadian composition linked together not by style, genre or epoch, but rather uniformly tethered to the island of Montréal where Bourdeau calls home, this excellent 2023 release is notable for both its beautiful fidelity and acoustic capture of the instrument, as well Bourdeau’s bold decision to be stylistically agnostic and take on a mixed bag of intriguing repertoire whose only point of connection is the geographic origin of the composers. Although on the surface there may be little that unifies the music of Claude Champagne and Oscar Peterson, in the skilled hands of Bourdeau, the angles are found despite the stylistic discrepancies, and repertoire and artistry coalesce nicely to form a compelling and unified musical statement. Other composers represented include François Morel, André Mathieu, Jacques Hétu, John Rea, Denis Gougeon, Rachel Laurin and Marc-André Hamelin.