15 for Piano
Roger Admiral, piano
Howard Bashaw, composer
Both 15 for Piano and Form Archimage rank among the relatively few major and challenging Canadian works for contemporary piano. Showcasing performer and composer, the pendulum of
extremes swings far and wide within the eclectic collection of movements included on this CD. Vivid, disparate inspirations and imaginings emerge in contrasting musical expressions that range from incidental, technical strategies, to various programmatic reflections on conceptual, visual and mythological impressions, and to longer narratives based on more complex sub-structures of compounding patterns and processes. And while some movements take the performer to the volatile, precarious edges of endurance and roaring virtuosity, others counter quietly within atmospheric pastels of fleeting tranquility and shadowy murmurings.
15 for Piano was co-commissioned through the Canada Council for the Arts by Roger Admiral, Winston Choi, Douglas Finch, Corey Hamm and Kyoko Hashimoto. Roger Admiral, a well-known champion of 20th century and contemporary repertoire, has performed and recorded many of Howard Bashaw’s works. Produced in direct collaboration with the composer, this premiere recording of 15 for Piano is also the first commercial recording made using the Canadian Music Centre’s new and impressive Steingraeber & Söhne piano, located in the recently renovated concert space of the CMC’s National Office in Toronto, Ontario.
15 for Piano (2012)
Form Archimage (revised version, 2010)
« Both the instrument and recording engineer John S. Gray, not to mention the pianist himself, have their mettle tested by the vast dynamic range and physicality of the music, and all pass with flying colours. I sometimes kid that to me piano recitals are ultimately « just so much banging » but in this instance I cannot get enough. Admiral can bang with the best of them and Bashaw has a way of making relentless percussive density extremely exciting and musical. This is not to say that the 40-minute-plus 2012 title piece is without respite. There are beautiful moments when the tension relaxes and we are drawn into a very different world where time is suspended and we are able to catch a breath. And even some of the ostinato passages are quiet and gentle, belying the furious activity happening in miniature. » – David Olds, the WholeNote
« The music is highly dynamic, very modern, with the sort of panache one gets if one combined Scriabin in his later phase, Charles Ives at his boldest, and perhaps even a little of the aggressively soaring sense of a Cecil Taylor. There is a bit of minimalist repetition here and there, but it is not central and it is not at all typical. More repeats of brief phrasings than minimalism per se. The totality of the music combines all of this (and perhaps more) with an originality which makes it all very much the music of Howard Bashaw. All that being said, it is music of fullness, a roar of sound at times, spelled by quieter, less extroverted introspection. It is a marvelously contemporary expressionism we get. It is music that will not be denied, very much foreground and assuredly NOT background music. All the better, because this is piano music that makes great demands on the player in its maelstroms of sound and Roger Admiral responds with zeal and great success. A pianistic world of tomorrow, yesterday and today, all together, this is. It is a kind of wonder and will appeal to the modernist quite aptly, I think. I certainly appreciate it. Highly recommended. » – Grego Applegate, Gapplegate Classical-Mordern Music Review