|Selected as one of CBC’s Top 20 Canadian classical albums of 2019
“Pianist Philip Chiu has the technique as well as the poetic drive to turn the score into living magic and of course that is what all the best sets of preludes require… John Burge shows himself to be a genuine force in New Music…” — Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
for piano solo
Music by John Burge
Philip Chiu, piano
Given the number of precedents in the world of Classical music, it is fair to state that there is a long traditional of composing a set of Twenty-Four Preludes for solo piano. John Burge’s preludes draw their primary influence from Chopin’s Opus 28 set in that Burge also composes one prelude in each major and minor key, employing the exact same ordering of keys used by Chopin. While Chopin was writing music in the highly chromaticized harmonic language of the early 19th century, in 2015, the year that Burge completed his set, the concept of tonality has undergone so many developments since Chopin’s time that there are now whole schools of musical techniques that produce music that is quite atonal. As an all-governing principle for his set of preludes though, Burge made it a personal requirement that each prelude had to embrace its tonic key in a decisively audible fashion. As an additional feature, eight of the preludes create unexpected coloristic effects ranging from sympathetic reverberation of overtones to plucking strings inside the piano. It is worth noting that often the most emphatically tonal preludes are the ones that use these kinds of extended instrumental techniques.
John Burge is a Canadian composer who has been teaching at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario since 1987. He has written a large body of vocal, chamber, and orchestral compositions, and received the 2009 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year. Early in his career, critics likened his compositional style to that of Benjamin Britten and Peter Maxwell Davies but increasingly his music can be best viewed as being highly eclectic in the way that he incorporates minimalistic elements or popular music inflections into the fabric of his musical ideas.
Philip Chiu is acclaimed for his brilliant pianism, sensitive listening, and a stage presence that eschews the hermit-pianist image in favour of openness, authenticity, and connection with audiences. Inaugural winner of the Mécénat Musica Prix Goyer, Chiu has become one of Canada’s leading musicians through his infectious love of music and his passion for creation and communication and is in high demand as a collaborative pianist. He is often heard performing with some of Canada’s finest musicians including having a long-standing duo with Jonathan Crow, concert master of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.