Ann Southam - Pond Life
Christina Petrowska Quilico
Centrediscs CMCCD 14109
This disc features piano music by Ann Southam, one of Canada’s most important - and most interesting - composers. The titles of the works on this disc refer to natural bodies of water, not just ponds but rivers and creeks as well. So, while the ten movements of Soundstill capture the calm surface of a windless pond, Noisy River, Fidget Creek, and Commotion Creek ripple and dance along. But whether these exquisite compositions are smooth or turbulent on the surface, underneath they teem with life.
The distinctiveness of Southam’s sound world lies in her ability to create a sense of space around the notes. A simple motif can emerge from the layers of sound, and, with a rhythmic or harmonic twist change the course of the music. It’s moving, and it encourages contemplation of what lies beyond the sounds.
Most of these works were written for Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, who in 2005 recorded Southam’s Rivers (also on Centrediscs). Her virtuosic command of the keyboard brings these works to life. With theatrical flair she balances the fine gradations in pitch and rhythm to create subtle shifts in mood, from nostalgic contemplation to irrepressible joy.
The cover art is lovely. But a reproduction of the painting by Aiko Suzuki which inspired Southam to write Spatial View of Pond I and II would also have been meaningful. The recorded sound is clear yet resonant, helping to make this disc such a delight.
Concert Note: Christina Petrowska Quilico will launch this CD on Tuesday, May 12 in Glenn Gould Studio with performances of the music of Ann Southam.
Fazil Say - 1001 Nights in the Harem
Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Luzerner
Sinfonieorchester; John Axelrod
Naïve V5147 (www.naiveclassique.com)
The Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say has achieved great success in both classical and jazz fields, with frequent concert hall and jazz festival appearances and a discography ranging from Bach to Stravinsky. As an accompanist, he toured with Maxim Vengerov in 2004, and in 2006 formed a duo partnership with the Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja.
His violin concerto was written for Kopatchinskaja, and this CD is a live recording of the world premiere performance in Lucerne in February 2008. It is a very accessible and extremely satisfying four-movement work, the title of which suggests that in this particular meeting of East and West the ‘East’ is going to be the dominant partner, as indeed it is. Turkish percussion instruments add colour to a rich and warm orchestral score full of sensuous oriental sonorities that reaches its peak in a wonderfully lyrical third movement.
Kopatchinskaja interprets the music superbly, with great support from Axelrod and the LSO. This is one concerto I’ll be playing over and over again.
Three other works by Say complete the disc. Patara, a quartet for soprano, ney flute, piano and percussion that was originally a ballet, and Alla turca Jazz, for piano, are both built on material from Mozart’s A major Piano Sonata K331, while Summertime Variations is Say’s third arrangement of the Gershwin song, here conceived as a dazzling solo piece suitable for use in both his classical and jazz appearances.