Intense and hypnotic soundscapes, charged with emotion and energy in a profoundly individual style – Constantine Caravassilis’ complete books of Rhapsodies and Fantasias could find no better interpreter than piano virtuoso Christina Petrowska Quilico, one of Canada’s finest exponents of new music. Caravassilis’ diverse compositions draw inspiration from ancient Greek mythology and Byzantine music, while also reflecting his strong affinity for classical music ranging from the baroque to impressionism.

Disc 1: The Book of Rhapsodies
1. Postcard from Smyrna 9:56
2. …to a Galliform Marionette 5:49
3. Visitations 11:23
4. Shadow Variations on a theme by Alan Hovhaness 27:24
5. Pandora’s Jar 10:23

Disc 2: The Book of Fantasias
1. Soul Ascending 6:03
2. Fantasia on the Dies Irae 11:40
3. View from Pluto 7:59
4. Fantasia on the Rising Sun 13:04
5. Lumen de Lumine 9:35

Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano


« This entirely made-in-Toronto album offers 112 minutes of timeless-sounding new music for solo piano that offers something for many different kinds of listeners. Not only has composer Constantine Caravassilis — currently working on his PhD at University of Toronto — written some great pieces, but pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico has brought each to life with a compelling force. There are two CDs in Visions, each containing five pieces. One is a set of Rhapsodies that best showcase the composer’s multi-layered imagination. The other disc contains five Fantasias that range more freely over the emotional landscape and have less clearly defined shapes. All of the pieces are tonal, but the combinations of intertwined melody, dialogue and harmony are Caravassilis’ own. The pieces are confidently pianistic, allowing Quilico to approach every phrase — whether fantastically extroverted or contemplative — with impeccable pacing and elegant verve. Both the music and the interpretations impress more with each listen. Favourite track: « Shadow Variations on a theme by Alan Hovhanness » shows off both composer and pianist as masters of their craft. » – John Terauds, The Toronto Star.

« No doubt every composer could share countless influences on the music they write, but what separates Caravassilis is that his music projects those influences at the very surface of every piece. All of this is not to say that his music lacks individuality. His formal structures and pianistic gestures in particular contribute to a rather distinct compositional voice. […] Quilico’s playing was superb throughout the evening, encouraging the audience to demand an encore at the end of Shadow Variations and again at the conclusion of the concert. She embraced each of the influences Caravassilis projected in his scores with evident ease, displaying sheer pianistic virtuosity. Quilico’s commitment to the project was demonstrated further by a group of paintings she created in response to Caravassilis’s compositions which were shown on video screens throughout the studio before and after the concert. » – Justin Rito, I Care if You Listen

« As evidenced in each of her many releases on the Centrediscs label Christina Petrowska Quilico’s technique is blazingly virtuosic but never « showy » and her interpretations are always deeply intelligent and sympathetic to her composers. She has championed many Canadian composers, many women composers and has been the main exponent of Ann Southam’s piano music in particular. Her latest collaboration is with Greek-Canadian Constantine Caravassilis. Knowing his soloist well (she was his piano teacher), the composer has created music that highlights her skills and her performer’s personality very effectively. The overall artistic mien of Petrowska Quilico’s work in this recording I would call sunny, as in « radiant » and « brilliant » — perhaps it’s the famous Greek sunshine, come to think of it. Her technique can be immensely delicate but also very forceful, while never betraying any sense of effort. This is quite an offering of piano music by a single composer but Caravassilis’ work sustains interest with its stylistic and emotional range and textural and dynamic shifts, while Petrowska Quilico’s interpretation ensures a delicious listening experience. » – Nic Gotham, the WholeNote

« Constantine‘s musical creations in this CD are gestures in effort of understanding and interpreting the world at multiple levels: spiritual, social, moral, artistic. Influenced by ancient Greek mythology, the folklore tradition of our country and his roots in Orthodox Christianity, he also stepped beyond all this to also include influences by the natural sciences and the metaphysical world, offering us a slow, almost painful translation, decoding his inner world onto his art. I think he was able to capture all of this in his music partly due to his fine training (also a former pupil of Christos Hatzis), and the masterful structuring of his overall work. […] Everything about this recording is simply excellently structured and orchestrated. Though this music might prove quite the obstacle for a younger pianist, it enables mature pianists (such as the composer’s former teacher in this recording) to showcase his immense talent. Though there is no need to pick favorites, I must point out that out of the two cycles, I have a personal emotional connection to Caravassilis’ « Fantasia on the Dies Irae », a triumphant, absolutely sublime work. » – Thomas Tamvakos, Jazz and Tzaz Magazine, Greece

« The evocative music of Canadian composer Constantine Caravassilis is the subject of this two-disc collection released late last year. Filled with numinous beauty and sublime expressiveness, these pieces embody the best things about piano music – its power to arouse, to placate, to beguile, suggest mystery, and express plainly what is hidden. Capably realized by acclaimed pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico – who also created paintings for each piece of music recorded on the CD – there is a palpable connection between the musician and the work that is quite attractive, and lends emotional gravitas to the performace. From the contemplative opening phrases of ‘Postcards from Smyrna’ through the cascading melodies of ‘Visitations’ and the sparse, sombre exaltation of ‘Lumen de Lumine,’ Caravassilis summons a soundscape of exquisite longong, inviting listeners to transcend themselves as he leads us into the mystic. Rapturous. » – Chris Morgan, Scene Magazine, London

« … unexpectedly wonderful. » – Leslie Barcza, barczablog

« This solo piano music is a meditative, mimimilist, melange of Middle- Eastern/Mediterranean folk-song and dance motifs, composed partly in regional modes with flavours of traditional Greek and Turkish instruments coming out of the piano. To my ear, it sounds like spiritual pianism, of the sort that came out of the collaboration of the Armenian mystic G.I. Gurdieff and his student, the pianist Thomas de Hartmann in the late 1920’s, and still being marketed as The Music of Gurdjieff / De Hartmann. Visions is also being presented as a collaboration: this one between emergent composer Constantine Caravassilis and his piano-teacher, Christina Petrowska-Quilico, a leading exponent of of new music in Canada.

The double-disc offers nearly two hours of solo piano music: a set of five well-structured Rhapsodies, and a more fluid set of five Fantasias, both sets addressed to the listener’s imagination. Given the close connection between composer and pianist, it works to discuss the music from a single point of view. For example, the music often calls for crystalline right-hand runs and shifting tempi that are technically challenging, and admirably executed. At the same time, the feeling for the mysticism and spirituality behind the notes comes through, palpably.

Visitations is affecting. The music is vivid, and the pianist’s technique so flexible, that she is able to lose herself in an almost endless variety of moods, feelings, shifting dramas, some peaceful, but given the frequency of alternations, the peace at the core of the music is not very stable. The most compelling composition is Shadow Variations, an homage to Armenian-American composer Alan Hovaness. One senses behind the orientalisms great depths of cultural richness, an impression one enjoys by wondering about it. The orientalisms bleed into more Baroque modes, and from there the contrapuntal lines dissolve into a sense of water burbling over stones. Subsequent pieces are by turns thoughtful, reflective, inquisitive, exploratory, tentative, touched by melodrama, and developments of energetic lines of music that flow, fly or flit through the incremental repetitions of minimalist and serial rows. This two-disc set is companionable music suitable for many situations. » – Stanley Fefferman, OpusOneReview