Notes and Editorial Reviews
Christina Petrowska Quilico (pn)
CENTREDISCS CMCCD 10805 (2 CDs: 91:26)
Composer Michel-Georges Brégent aptly described these works as
. Although they make fearsome demands on the pianist, they are not etudes in the sense that they develop any particular technical skill … at least, not as far as I can hear. Instead, they seem to be “studies” in the emotional or intellectual sense. It is worth
quoting the titles of all 16: “Unattainable Love,” “Misunderstood Visionaries,” “Types of Masks,” “Loneliness,” “The Beggar,” “Ideal Romance,” “Armed Political Power,” “Scientific Research,” “Concealed Refugee,” “Go Rocker-Gangs, Go!,” “Race for Cash,” “Athletes,” “Metal Tiger,” “In Praise of Courage,” “Vietnam Disaster,” and “Greatness.” Brégent writes that the
“draw or depict states of being, illustrate social situations, professions, and occupations.” He continues, “They are a logical continuation of the repertoire of the
of Liszt and Liapunov, the etudes of Chopin, Scriabin, and the etudes-tableaux of Rachmaninoff.” Just what Brégent meant by a title such as “Metal Tiger” is not explained in the booklet notes, which I suppose is fair enough, as it gives each listener a chance to use his or her imagination. (Apparently, in the Chinese horoscope, a metal tiger is someone who is born in the years 1950 and 2010, but that might not have been what Brégent had in mind at all!)
“Go Rocker-Gangs, Go!” is typical of this set. It begins as a galumphing neobaroque toccata that soon becomes infected with strenuous boogie-woogie elements. Then the rhythms start to straighten out and the music takes on the air of mammoths stampeding across the prehistoric Canadian plains. Earlier material is recalled—three steps forward and two steps back, one might say. By the time the piece has ended, just over five minutes later, the listener is out of breath. Brégent has many surprises in store. For example, “Metal Tiger” contains a frank quote from Nino Rota’s hit song from the 1970s,
Speak Softly Love
(also known as “Theme from
”). What does it all mean? Who knows, but Brégent’s overall style, which might be described as heavy-metal Rachmaninoff, holds one’s attention. Petrowska Quilico’s live performances, one assumes, reflect the late composer’s wishes. In her interview with me, she confessed that she had withheld these performances for some time because she recalled a moment or two of technical imperfection. When producer David Jaeger suggested that she reconsider so they could be released on CD, she reviewed the tapes and could no longer find the faults. I certainly can’t!
If you have any doubts, apparently eminent pianist Marc-André Hamelin has expressed interest in Brégent’s music. However, Christina Petrowska Quilico got there first! I don’t think she is likely to be outdone.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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