The Art of Touching the Keyboard

by Eve Egoyan

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about

A somatic nuance that gives a sound its grief. A shadow. Almost without trace—as if time can bend imperceptibly around mortal thought.

A scrap of piano music from a small kitchen radio in Paris, through the phone line, into the degraded quality of an answering machine in Toronto; a message left in the middle of the night. I cup my ear close to the machine. I love the person whose radio it is, those thousands of miles away, and perhaps that makes me listen differently. But it is not only that. I replay the tape—a scrap, a fragment—again and again, because the profundity of the interpretation is instantly perceivable, even through the crackle and hollow hiss. In a live performance, on the purest disc, even under conditions of the poorest sound quality, we recognize it: mysterious, indefinable, pianistic “touch”.

Sound is a complex collaboration—among the instrument, the performer’s mind and body, her physical and emotional rigor and surrender, the composer’s notation, both the audience and the performer listening... The virtual elements in virtuosity—in each performance these relationships differing, shifting, responding to each other in new ways — can probably never be defined.

Eve Egoyan’s interpretation of the pieces on this disc are deeply disciplined, deeply intuitive in the best way—the intuition honed by years of work. It is a profound and passionate grasp of the music’s inner coherence; it is both listening and response.

Egoyan’s insight, and her technical range, are remarkable. Her range of tone, touch and colour is so intensely calibrated, one could almost believe she plays several different pianos on this disc. The “magic echo room” of Turn, the repeated but wholly new notes in The Art of Touching the Keyboard, the gorgeous warmth in Nuevas monodías españolas, the “glassy, solid... cold” of Crystalline, the poignant rise and fall, probing inner call and response, of Corals of Valais: within each piece an impeccably complex range of relationships. And her emotional range is astonishing; she is fully in control of the most haunting gradations of feeling. Especially moving is her evocation of the deeply embedded narrative of Trail.

These pieces, Eve Egoyan says, are “about different types of virtuosity that playing contemporary music requires, the physicality of playing the work, listening and imagining... explor(ing) new languages for the instrument….”

I know I will play this disc to someone through the phone lines in the middle of the night. I will hold the receiver to the speaker and let Egoyan’s interpretations, the integrity of her performance travel, not via disc, but in time.

“New languages”; old as feeling, old as sound.

—Anne Michaels

credits

released December 2, 2015

Executive Producer: Eve Egoyan.
Studio Producer: David Jaeger.
Sound Engineer: David Quinney.
Assistant Engineer: Dennis Patterson.
Digital Editing and Mastering: John D.S. Adams.
Recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, July 2, 3, and 4, 2003.
Introduction: Anne Michaels.
Notes Editor: Lauren Pratt.
Translation: Jacques-André Houle.
Graphic Design: Tom Chaggaris for Crush Design.
Photography: David Rokeby.
The Art of Touching the Keyboard score excerpt reproduced by kind permission of Novello & Company Limited, London, England.
Première recordings of Corals of Valais, Crystalline, Nuevas monodías españolas, and Trail.

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