Glass Houses Vol. 2

Music by / Musique d' Ann Southam

2014
Centrediscs / Centredisques
CD-CMCCD 20114

Glass Houses Vol. 2

Ann Southam was a close friend and musical collaborator of Christina Petrowska Quilico for almost 30 years. Petrowska Quilico began performing her music in 1981 and has recorded a number of her major works for piano. Glass Houses Revisited (Centrediscs) was the third collection and the first recording of this cycle and remains Centrediscs’ best-selling CD of all time. It was nominated for a JUNO for Best Classical Composition in 2012. Glass Houses Vol. 2 completes the entire set of “Glass Houses” for Centrediscs.

Passion and sensitivity, phenomenal technique and “dazzling virtuosity” (New York Times) characterize pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, whether she is playing a Liszt piano solo, a Mozart chamber work, the Grieg concerto or the premiere of a new work by a living composer. Her 30-some recorded titles encompass contemporary works by Canadian and International composers as well as standard repertoire.

Born in Winnipeg, Ann Southam (1937-2010) completed musical studies at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music. Southam’s works have been commissioned through the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and continue to be performed in Canada, Europe and the United States. She was honoured with the Order of Canada, and earned a posthumous JUNO nomination for Best Classical Composition in 2012.

1. Glass Houses #14 7:19
2. Glass Houses #11 11:31
3. Glass Houses #15 9:05
4. Glass Houses #10 8:58
5. Glass Houses #12 7:01
6. Glass Houses #8 9:54

Deeply musical and affecting
This record joins with a previous release, Glass Houses Revisited, to supply a complete account of this major collection by Canadian composer Ann Southam (1937-2010). The title is a refer- ence to Philip Glass, and the pieces are con- ceived as thoroughly minimalistic. They may not be of interest to everyone. Questions of style aside, the music is very compelling: undulating, pulsating, the continuous surface unpredictably dotted with jabs and runs. The harmonic orientation is essentially diatonic, and the rhythmic sense propulsive.

This is difficult and nuanced music, and Christina Petrowska Quilico is entirely up to the challenge. Apparently the pianist was a very active collaborator, credited with “editing and revising” these works (originally written in 1981) for these two recordings. The pianist writes: “There are no indications of dynamics, phrasing, fingering, pedaling, or other direc- tions in the score. When I asked her for some suggestions about these pieces, Ann wrote to me, ‘I trust your musical judgment complete- ly’. As a result, this has been a unique, person- al and intimate journey in bringing these pieces to life.” These performances are deeply musical and affecting.
Canadian Association of Music Libraries Newsletter
“If I had to sum up the character of the music and performance on this disc in one word, it would be ebullience. I have rarely encountered music that is so ceaselessly optimistic in character.  Given the daunting technical challenges these pieces present to the pianist, it is a testament to Petrowska Quilico’s consummate mastery of the instrument and intimate understanding of Southam’s compositional language that these pieces sound as effortless as they do. Further, the textures are remarkably clear, the articulations so precise, and the balance between the hands so beautifully positioned that one loses sight of the flawless musicianship required to perform these pieces; rather, one is immersed in the captivating, magical,  minimalist sound-world that Southam has created.”

– Edward Jurkowski, University of Lethbridge
  Canadian Association of Music Libraries Newsletter (caml.info.yorku.ca)
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
“RIP Ann Southam. Her memory is well served and her brilliance enshrined in this marvelous Volume Two of Glass Houses. If you are the slightest bit into pattern and repetition, you will want to hear these beautiful works and Ms. Quilico's definitive way with them. Very recommended.”

– Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review
  (classicalmodernmusic.blogspot.com)
Inherent pianistic artistry
“Ms. Quilico gives us about as definitive a version as we are likely to get for some time. She has the rhythmic independence between right and left hands and the inherent pianistic artistry to make it all sing."
Classical Music Sentinel
“You know what they say about people who live in glass houses. They shouldn't throw stones, but what about tossing handfuls of diamonds into the air? And if we could slow down time to watch them fall, savouring their ever-changing shapes and the tiny fractions of sunlight they cast about we might have something like the visual equivalent of Ann Southam's set of piano pieces called Glass Houses

– Richard Todd, Classical Music Sentinel
L’offrande musicale
« La musique répétitive et pulsative de Glass est célébrée ici avec un éclat chatoyant, tant par la créatrice que par l’interprète. Ce disque est une offrande musicale respectueuse et lumineuse d’une pianiste à une amie compositrice, et de cette amie à un grand mentor contemporain. »

Translation: The Musical Offering
“The repetitive and pulsating music of Glass Houses is celebrated with shimmering brilliance, as much by the creator as by the interpreter. This disc is an homage and luminous musical gift from a pianist to a composer friend, and from this friend to a great contemporary mentor.”

– Frédéric Cardin, espace.mu (Radio-Canada)
The Whole Note : Réa Baumont
Glass Houses Vol. 2 is an outstanding solo piano recording that showcases the artistry of concert pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico and her depth of insight derived from the 30-year collaboration and friendshipthat she shared with composer Ann Southam (1937-2010).

Petrowska Quilico has previously recorded Southam’s Glass Houses Revisited (Centrediscs, CMCCD 16511), Rivers on the three-CD set Canadian Composers Portraits: Ann Southam (CMCCD 10505), a two-CD set Pond Life (CMCCD 14109), and multiple individual works on compilation albums. This stunning new release from Centrediscs presents six of the composition’s fifteen movements composed in 1981 and later revised for the pianist in 2009.

Inspired by the American minimalist composer Philip Glass, Southam’s Glass Houses features highly complex passagework delivered at lightning speed, with lengthy repeating figures in the left hand interacting with varying lines in the right hand. The dynamics, articulations and pedalling are left entirely to the performer’s discretion and this is where Petrowska Quilico’s interpretive powers are most impressive.

The pianist and production team have given careful thought to the order that the pieces appear on the album. From a shimmering opening to intense, driving movements, there are also playful moments with unexpected jazz riffs. Petrowska Quilico’s recording exemplifies the artistry and physical endurance that are required to create this seamless musical vision for one of Ann Southam’s masterpieces.

Réa Beaumont, The Whole Note (www.thewholenote.com)
see the article online here.
Gapplegate Classical Modern Music Review - Very recommended
Canadian composer Ann Southam passed away while her friend and associate, pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, was working on performing the pieces that ended up as Volumes One and Two of Glass Houses. Volume Two is now out (Centerdiscs 20114). These were written some years before but sound as current as ever. Quilico gives us definitive, rhythmically charged renditions of "Glass Houses 8, 10-12 and 14".

I covered some of Southam's posthumously performed piano music last April 24th, 2013 on these pages, and what was true of that recording is even more so of this. This is a kind of minimilism but very much of Ann Southam's original own. The works generally have an ostinato pattern of chordal-melodic figures for the left hand that tend to be in an irregular meter. The right hand contrasts these recurring figures with a melodic development that articulates a different and sometimes shifting meter.

The melodies are not generally cosmic passagework, which conventional first-school minimalism might tend to favor, but rather have more conventional a-b-a-c, etc., structure. This makes the music stand out as more than interesting interlocking patterns, which it is in any event, but something more through-composed as well as performative.

And so this music tends to stand out for its rhythmic vibrancy (which is substantial) AND its melodic distinctiveness. Interestingly enough Keith Jarrett in his solo concert mode would sometimes get into something like this during the middle period, but he never really worked the idea out as a melodic-compositional entity that could stand on its own. The cross-rhythmic push and the melodic sculpting that Ms. Southall develops here were never worked out consistently or palpably in the Jarrettian moment. For that we have these wonderful Southam works.

She develops an idea that was "in the air" so to speak and makes it into a lasting art of great merit. Ms. Quilico gives us about as definitive a version as we are likely to get for some time. She has the rhythmic independence between right and left hands and the inherent pianistic artistry to make it all sing.

RIP Ann Southam. Her memory is well served and her brilliance enshrined in this marvelous Volume Two of Glass Houses. If you are the slightest bit into pattern and repetition, you will want to hear these beautiful works and Ms. Quilico's definitive way with them. Very recommended.

Grego Applegate Edwards
Toronto classical concert and opera picks for April 22 to April 27, 2014
...The disc has been in my CD player all week, and it sounds incredible.

Another busy week with many shows to see. Highlights include Christina Petrowska Quilico, Rick Sacks, COC’s opening of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, and Opera Atelier’s revived Lully’s Persée.

For the last 30 years of the late composer Ann Southam’s life, she developed a very close friendship with her champion and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico. Tonight, Quilico pays homage to Southam with a new recording that concludes the cycle of numbered études that began in 2010, with the release of Glass Houses Revisited. The disc has been in my CD player all week, and it sounds incredible. You can learn more here.

- Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto (www.musicaltoronto.org)