Eve Egoyan
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Eve Egoyan

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Eve Egoyan @ Centre in the Square

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Eve Egoyan @ Centre in the Square

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Eve Egoyan @ Music Gallery

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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By Alidë Kohlhaas

Eve Egoyan is the kind of pianist who excites the listener because of the total involvement she displays with whatever music she performs. My first encounter with this pianist was some years ago when she performed some work — which I can no longer recall — on TVO' s Studio 2. Then I had the opportunity to review her CBC Records CD of works by Erik Satie. True, I can take Satie only in small measures, but Egoyan played so well, I could not but be impressed by her performance.

Now Egoyan has come out with a new CD featuring works especially composed for her. There are four works on this CD entitled 'Weave: Eve Egoyan', and they are all world premiere recordings. These are four very different compositions, yet there is a common thread to them in that they all invite one to meditate on, to contemplate on, not just the music but also what is around us. Egoyan's playing seems to meld with the piano. She is one with her instrument and at the same time she is one with the music.

Hers is an extraordinary talent that concentrates almost exclusively on modern composers, especially living composers. She brings them to our attention as few other pianists manage to do. These composers produce works that for the most part appear inaccessible to the listener, but that changes when Egoyan performs their compositions. They suddenly lose their seeming distance from our musical experience, our surroundings, from our usual perception of what is music. They become accessible.

The four composers featured on 'Weave: Eve Egoyan' are Martin Arnold, James Tenney, Jo Kondo and Michael Finnissy. Their backgrounds are quite varied. Tenney is the senior of the group in that he was born in 1934 in Silver City, New Mexico. Finnisy was born in London, England, in 1946, Kondo in Tokyo in 1947.

Arnold's age is not stated in the liner notes, but he appears to be Canadian-born. His piece is called Herl. Now, anglers will know what a herl is, namely the barb or barbs of feathers used to dress fishing flies, and anyone familiar with the Scottish dialect will know the word harl, which means to troll for fish. When I first listened to the piece on my portable CD player while travelling on the GO Train to Toronto, it induced in me just that sense of both calm and excitement that anglers feel as they spent hours on a river or lake hoping for that fish to bit. I did not yet know its name nor had any clue who had written the piece. Somehow Arnold's choice of name, whether he chose it in jest or in earnest, fits the work well.

Tenney titled his piece To Weave (a meditation), thus inadvertently giving Egoyan the title for this CD, her fifth of music by living composers. Only 10:46 minutes in length, Tenney's composition does have a sense of the weaver's touch, but also, as its composer states, the music forms wave upon wave that escalate and then slowly recede, leaving the listener in contemplation. At the same time, as I listened, this piece seemed to capture the rhythm of the train's wheels and so altered my perceptions of my surroundings inside the train and the view outside during my journey.
Kondo's work is even shorter. He called it 'Metaphonesis', and in his words, he created "a web of intertonal relationships." There is a strong correlation between his work and To Weave. When I first listened to it, it seemed to be a continuation of Tenney's composition. This is perhaps why Egoyan called her CD Weave, for there is a tonal weaving between some of this music that is quite seductive.

Finnissy called his work 'Erik Satie, like anyone else'. As the name implies, Satie was one of his early heros. He liked the idea of the Frenchman being a musical provocateur and renegade. Teenagers are that way, no matter where they live. In this work I found that the silences were as important as the sounds. It is a work that needs several listenings, at least for me, before it really sinks in. But again, like the previous three works, there is that invitation to meditate, although there are sudden moments when that mediation is ruptured by forceful chords. Egoyan, whose sensitive touch makes all four pieces take on their own life, surprises with her forcefulness when required. It is startling, yet refreshing, and she captures these moments to perfection.
The sound quality of this CD is even, but listeners must be warned that they have to raise the decibels a little as some notes are so gentle and quiet they can easily be missed if the stereo is set too low. - Lancette / Journal of the Arts

Rating: ****
Reviewed by Elissa Poole

Pianist Eve Egoyan has a way of warming up even the coolest music, but she has also developed a more crystalline touch in recent years which allows for fire and ice as well. Both serve her well on her latest disc, where Egoyan, typically, has chosen new music that exists off the main path. In Nuevas monodias espanoles Jose Evangelista makes sparks with the glittering shards of old Spanish melodies; in Crystalline, Karen Tanaka constructs in diamond-studded Tinker Toys. Stephen Parkinson's Trail teases us with a cryptic narrative of cowboy titles. Allison Cameron's Corals of Valais is the piece with the lowest specific heat, but although it resists both interpretation and affection, Egoyan has led us to a point where we're prepared to take what she offers on faith. So we do. - The Globe and Mail

Pianist Eve Egoyan cannot boast the world-wide fame of her brother, the great film maker... Atom Egoyan. Within the world of contemporary piano music, however, she is a star of the highest magnitude.

Her taste, discipline and musicality are so thoroughly evolved that she has been known to make believers of new-music sceptics. The problem is, of course, that most new-music sceptics manage to avoid her. That being the case, the major record companies have little interest in her and the lesser ones not much more. Hence this superb self-produced CD. (The CBC did issue an Egoyan recording of some music by Satie.)

The first thing Egoyan did right was to choose six pieces notable, not only for their advanced idioms and artistic integrity, but for their beauty as well in most cases.

Take the opening work, for example. José Evangelista's Nuevas monodías españoles consists of twenty-one arrangements of traditional Spanish melodies and is entirely tonal. However, it employs no harmony and no counterpoint. Instead the composer explores, in his words, "a piano style where register changes and ornamentation predominate. The goal is to create the illusion that several voices simultaneously perform slight variations of the melody on different octaves." You might imagine that twenty-three monophonic pieces lasting barely half a minute each would become monotonous. You would be right only in the sense that a string of pearls can be seen as monotonous.

Karen Tanaka's Crystalline finds its beauty in the acoustical properties of the piano. She describes the music's sound as a "cold, crystal sound sculpture," and I might add that for me it evokes a walk across a frozen, starlit lake on a cold winter night.

The Art of Touching the Keyboard is more fascinating than beautiful, no doubt, but fascinating it is. It is "a single continuous movement (that) demonstrates the many ways in which the piano keys can be touched, from the gentlest of strokes to the most vicious of blows."

Stephen Parkinson's Trail is made up of twenty minutes of "the simplest of materials and the barest of textures," as the composer puts it. It opens with a series of repeated g-b thirds that are repeated from time to time. The work is made up of short episodes, conceptually simple, if hardly conventional. The result is music that requires not so much the rapt attention of the listener as a relaxed hearing.

Per Nørgärd originally wrote Turn for the clavichord. It was one of the preliminary studies for his Third Symphony for choir and orchestra. Like the Tanaka, it relies heavily on the sonorities of the piano, but it is warmer music, "a declaration of love for the universal order,"according to commentator Karl Aage Rasmussen. If sheer, sensual beauty is what you're after, this is where you'll find it.

Corals of Valais, the concluding work on the CD, is largely made up of two-note intervals and single notes presented in an unvarying slow tempo with a rhythmic regularity so severe that it first fascinates, then irritates and finally liberates. It is a fitting conclusion to a liberating collection of contemporary music. - Ocus Pocus - December 2004

by Tamara Bernstein

Go ahead, judge Eve Egoyan's debut CD by its cover -- an artistic, blue-tinted photograph of the pianist's ear. Apart from its aesthetic qualities, the image on 'New Music for Piano: thethingsinbetween' captures the essence of a performer whose powers of listening cast a hypnotic spell over her audiences, opening their own ears -- and hearts -- to repertoire that's conventionally considered "a hard sell."

Egoyan (sister of film director Atom Egoyan) was born in Victoria and lives in Toronto. She has specialized in contemporary music since 1994. She's by no means the only young Canadian pianist to do so; her generation has produced a bumper crop of new music specialists -- Montreal's Louise Bessette, Calgary's Colleen Athparia, Stephen Clarke and Gregory Oh of Toronto, among others. But the 35-year-old Egoyan, whose New Music for Piano comes out this week, seems poised to break out of the contemporary music ghetto and bring the music of her peers to mainstream classical audiences -- perhaps even beyond.

Next month, the pianist embarks on an eight-city tour of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland -- a rare instance of mainstream presenters signing up a contemporary music specialist. And while New Music for Piano appears on the independent Artifact label, two major record companies have made overtures to the pianist.

Composers whose works she plays have responded ecstatically; after hearing her play her piece The Art of Touching the Keyboard, Britain's Judith Weir entrusted her with the North American premiere of her piano concerto.

So what's Egoyan's secret? Meticulous preparation. Discerning choice of repertoire -- she only plays music she loves and supports herself through teaching. An innate love for piano sonorities and texture. Abundant technique that never advertises itself. A passionate desire to get under the skin of the music she plays -- one of the reasons she decided to devote herself to new music, she told the Post, is that she loves being able to pick up the phone and ask composers what they meant in a score.

And again, there's Egoyan's magical quality of listening, not only to the notes, but to "the things in between" -- the silences and resonances after the notes of a piano are struck.

It all adds up to a trustworthiness: Even though one generally puts up a certain amount of chaff at new music concerts, your chances of having your time wasted at an Egoyan recital are very slim indeed.

Egoyan's strong sense of program design deserves special mention. In a recent conversation in her studio -- a sun-filled space in a converted factory in Toronto's garment district -- she blushingly confessed that she loves planning elaborate meals. That makes sense: Her recitals take the listener through a journey that offers a pleasure and sense of discovery comparable to four-star gastronomy.

Egoyan put the same care into the program on her new CD. It opens with three fantasies on 'Strauss waltzes' by British composer Michael Finnissy; Egoyan hopes listeners will find their opulent textures, which recall Scriabin, "very welcoming." Things then start to disintegrate with 'Piano Diary', a fragmentary work by Victoria composer Michael Longton, with whom Egoyan studied as an undergraduate. Alvin Curran's 'For Cornelius' starts off in the style of Eric Satie. But its central section -- a long, sustained, minimalist shimmer -- is "about pure resonance." It marks a break with the past and should feel like "the beginning of a new CD," Egoyan said.

The Curran opens the door into the final works: Linda Smith's 'Nocturne' and Stephen Parkinson's 'Rainbow Valley', both of which take the listener into new realms of sound and structure. Smith's meditative piece is the still centre of the disc: One feels as though the pianist is dipping into a deep pool, stirring up fragmentary echoes of the past (Debussy often comes to mind), which dissolve into ripples of sound and silence.

With Rainbow Valley the CD reaches its farthest remove from traditional repertoire. Scraping the piano strings with loonies and rubber wedges, the pianist conjures a Kafkaesque sound world that reminded me of metallic, insect-like scrabbling.

Egoyan makes no claim to being a comprehensive "expert" in 20th-century music. Her repertoire, she said, goes up to Scriabin, then stops, and picks up again with the music of her time; her "adventure" in modern music, as she likes to call it, began with her playing the music of friends. "I hate music that sounds like 'modern music,' " she said with a laugh.

She also, in part, turned to contemporary music because she was dissatisfied with many aspects of the mainstream music world, in which she was rigorously trained in Canada and Europe. "I hated the competitiveness of it," she said. "And I love coming to [new] music free, with no history of interpretation, no multiple editions or multiple recordings [with which] to compare."

One endearing (to me) a - The National Post (October 26, 1999)

By Jed Distler

Eve Egoyan takes a diversion into lesser-known Satie with results to delight and ravish the ear

"Hidden Corners" aptly describes the contents of this beautifully recorded, impeccably executed, and astutely programmed Satie recital. While much of the music is not unfamiliar to Satie fans well-versed in Aldo Ciccolini's path-breaking EMI traversals, those seeking 'greatest hits' like the Gymnopedies and the Gnossiennes won't find them here. What we do find, though, is a pianist who not only understands and loves this music, but plays it with lots of character, style, taste, and pinpointed technical control.

Listen to Egoyan's hypnotically steady unfolding of the slow-moving broken chords that dominate throughout the Pi?ces froides, or the character and bite she brings to each movement of the Sports et divertissements. While Steffen Schleirermacher lays out the Quartre Ogives in a bleak, freeze-framed progression, Egoyan's faster pace and more natural, melody-oriented phrasing really make these static portraits move. The dance-oriented pieces benefit from Egoyan's strongly projected bass lines. She doesn't voice Le Piccadilly's right-hand melodies to Jean-Yves Thibaudet's sophisticated effect, yet her solider left-hand rhythmic underpinning imparts a stronger march-like tread to the music.

Many pianists pull the Nocturnes about like taffy in the name of Chopin. Egoyan, by contrast, makes her salient points through a steady, fluid pulse and ravishing textural diversity. Notable too is the evocative San Bernardo, a tiny gem from 1913, recorded her for the first time. CBC should march Eve Egoyan back into the studio to record Satie's remaining piano music. A wonderful disc in every way: highly recommended. - Gramphone Magazine (February 2003)



thethingsinbetween - New Music For Piano (1999 Artifact Music)

Erik Satie - Hidden Corners / Recoins (2002 CBC Records)

The Art of Touching the Keyboard (2004 Independent)

WU (2005 Independent)

WEAVE (2006 Independent)

Asking (2007 Mode Records)



“Eve Egoyan’s pianism has strengths in abundance, fully justifying Michael Finnissy’s testimony that ’she illuminates the music she plays; an alchemy, authenticity and fearlessness’” - International Piano Magazine

Eve Egoyan is a concert pianist who specializes in the performance of new works. Her intense focus, command of the instrument, insightful interpretations, and unique programmes welcome audiences into unknown territory, bridging the gap between them and contemporary composers.
Composers have a uniformly high regard for her performances of their works, often considering them definitive.

Eve has performed the world première and North American premières of many works by Canadian and international composers: Maria de Alvear,
Gavin Bryars, Alvin Curran, Michael Finnissy, Mamoru Fujieda, Jo Kondo, Masahiro Miwa, Erik Satie, Karen Tanaka, and Judith Weir and Canadian
composers John Abram, Martin Arnold, Allison Cameron, José Evangelista, Anthony Genge, Rudolf Komorous, Michael Longton, Juliet Palmer,
Stephen Parkinson, James Rolfe, John Mark Sherlock, Linda C. Smith, Ann Southam, James Tenney and Gayle Young. She has appeared as a solo recitalist in Canada, England, France, Germany, Japan, and the U.S..

Collaborations have included improvisation, dance projects, interdisciplinary performance, film work and sound installations. Eve has released six critically acclaimed discs, five of works by living
composers and one disc of works by Erik Satie. “Asking” by Spanish/German Maria de Alvear will released internationally on the New York-based record label Mode Records this fall. Eve will record her seventh disc this winter.

Eve is presently working on Alvin Curran’s six hour“Inner Cities” for touring as well as the complete Erik Satie for recording.
Eve studied standard repertoire in Canada as well as at the Hochschule der Künste in West Berlin and the Royal Academy of Music in London, England. Her interest in music by living composers began after her first new music concert in 1994. Working with living composers, on a modern instrument and playing music of our time is extremely important to Eve who intuitively feels these elements bring her closer to the creative source, something she hopes to share with her audiences.