Format: Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Label: Centrediscs / Centredisques
“5”: world première recordings of five posthumously discovered works by Ann Southam.
The pieces on this disc were discovered in Ann Southam’s house following the composer’s death in November 2010. They are related to Returnings and Returnings II: A Meditation which Eve Egoyan recorded in 2011 on “Returnings: Music of Ann Southam” (Centrediscs CMCCD 17211).
“The music on this disc is similar in pulse and texture, dynamic and pianistic range. What fills our ears and draws us in towards the music is in the weave: the magnetic pull of the constant drone of a fifth in the lower voices; the unfolding of a dissonant row in the middle voices; and the colouring of warm harmonic chords on top. The interaction of these three elements are blended by pedal which open the piano’s resonances holding the row in a constant, tender embrace. Ann, the composer: an artist colouring, blending and clearing; a scientist subjecting her row to different soundings. We, her audience, alongside her, witnessing her musical world unfolding peacefully around us, embraced, like the row, on the flow of a journey that has momentum of its own.” – Eve Egoyan
Eve Egoyan is a pianist, an artist whose medium is the piano. Her ongoing performance interests encompass extremely contrasting sensibilities: from Alvin Curran’s five-hour long Inner Cities to Erik Satie’s miniatures; from minimalist Simple Lines of Enquiry by Ann Southam to maximalist new complexity works by Michael Finnissy; from the barely audible to roaring overtone-filled resonances; from the rigorous interpretation of a score to free improvisation. Egoyan also explores other art forms and technologies in relation to the piano. “5” is Eve’s ninth solo disc.
1. Returnings II in B flat
2. Returnings in A flat
3. Untitled in G
4. Untitled in A flat
5. Untitled in B flat
“The music of Ann Southam is a bit like the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci: Just as the Italian Renaissance master never seemed to tire of sketching a particular object, like a human hand or churning water, over and over again, so the late Canadian composer frequently continued to explore a single fragment of musical material in seemingly countless guises.
As such, the five haunting piano solos by Southam that constitute “5,” a new recording released by the Canadian Music Center, are probably better thought of as the five connected movements of a single large-scale work rather than a handful of distinct compositions. Upon first listen, there’s not much that distinguishes the pieces, which were discovered in Southam’s house following the composer’s death in 2010, from each other. They are all meandering in tempo, brooding in mood and basically consonant in tonality. A foreboding thread of dissonance runs throughout each track. But upon closer inspection, the movements reveal distinctive qualities, following on from one another like the way shadows change as the sun crosses the sky, or tides move in and out from the shore.
Pianist Eve Egoyan masterfully manages to retain the overall consistency of style across the five pieces composed from a 12-tone row while drawing our attention to the subtle changes that disrupt the ever-steady pulse of the left hand drone and right hand chords. Harmonies become lush and expansive at one point, only to shrink to a single basic chord later on. Pauses appear in the texture breaking up the flow of the musical line, and then mysteriously recede. A definitive major cadence contrasts with the ambiguity of an unresolved chord. All of these barely perceptible shifts work together to create a musical experience that is at once beautiful and unsettling.” – Chloe Veltman, Q2 Album of the Week, WQXR.
“There is a rhythmic component to this music, as well, one that rocks the listener ever so gently. The intimacy of the experience brought tears to my eyes. The older I get, the more I come to appreciate the virtues of simplicity, of how one carefully chosen object in a room can speak far more eloquently than a wall full of tchotchkes. Composers are rarely rewarded for subtracting notes from their creations, and are often looked down upon if their music is too accessible. But I can only sit slack-jawed in wonder at an imagination that can achieve so much with so little and for Egoyan to treat the music with such respect and care. Here we have something timeless as well as timely. It’s an antidote to the quick fix, the adrenaline rush, to the daily parade of shiny objects. It also transcends the artificial dividing lines between genres and categories. I know I’m gushing, but this is one of the marvels of 2013.” – John Terauds, Musical Toronto
“There are many reasons to get excited about this recording of late works by maverick Canadian composer Ann Southam. For one thing, no one knew these works existed until they turned up in Southam’s Toronto home after her death in 2010. For another, this is a gorgeous recording.
What struck me the first time I listened – and after many listenings I’m still not ready to put this disc away – was that although these works are strikingly austere, they throb with vitality. Like the water-sculpted fallen trees on the booklet cover, they enchant by stealth, as though they are emerging from another world.” – Pamela Margles, The WholeNote
“Each one is of a piece, at a leisurely pace, legato, unfolding slowly and hypnotically. They are of a mesmerizing minimalist sort. […] I took to the works right away and find them continually welcome in my listening life thus far. Southam is like no other and that these are in effect her goodbye to us on this earth is quite affecting. Highly recommended.” – Grego Applegate Edwards, Classical Modern Music
“On the album, the work [Returnings] is a touchingly beautiful thing; performed live, the effect was truly extraordinary. It seduces, deceives, and then reassures you with the faintest of whispers.” – Justin Rito, I Care If You Listen
This recording is not yet available on Spotify.