Toccata

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From Long Ago - Obstinate Tune (938.77 kb)
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Toccata (938.77 kb)
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SKU: CD-CMCCD 18312
Call Number: CD 1578
Ensemble/Performer: Barbara Pritchard
Media Type: CD
Year of Release: 2012
Record Label: Centrediscs / Centredisques

Heralded as one of John Terauds' (Musical Toronto) top 10 albums of 2012.

**Nominated for Best Classical Album of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards (2014).**

Barbara Pritchard, Piano

In the middle years of the 20th century, Canadian composer Barbara Pentland (1912-2000) was a committed high modernist and a steadfast partisan of contemporary values. In Canadian terms, she was analogous to Elizabeth Lutyens in the United Kingdom or Ruth Crawford Seeger in the United States; she shared their concerns not just about the struggle for the new, but the particular problems of a finding a place as a woman in the overwhelmingly male milieu of the international avant-garde. Her preferred brand of modernism drew on the textures and organizational principles of the Webern school but was suffused with a lyricism that was expressly individual.

In 2012, the Canadian Music Centre British Columbia Region announced a national festival celebrating the centennial of Barbara Pentland. The festival was to be made up of cultural and educational events reflecting Pentland’s contributions to composition, performance and music education in Canada.

Pianist Barbara Pritchard had played several of Barbara Pentland’s works in her student days when she studied with Robert (Bob) Rogers in Vancouver. Bob was a wonderful pianist and a keen advocate for Canadian music. He was also a friend and colleague of Pentland’s and had played and recorded much of her piano music. Pentland’s Toccata was the first significant piece of Canadian music Pritchard had worked on. Bob took her to play it for Pentland, introducing Pritchard to the idea of consulting with a composer on the performance of his or her music. This turned out to be an important influence on the direction Pritchard’s career has taken.

It seemed only natural to Barbara Pritchard that she propose to record a CD of piano music by Barbara Pentland in celebration of her centennial. It has been an honour for her to be able to take part in the Pentland Festival in this way, and she dedicates the CD to Barbara Pentland and Bob Rogers.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of the Pentland Centenary Fund as awarded by the B.C. Region.

Works/Tracks

1. Toccata (1958) 7:55

Ephemera (1974-78) 13:26
2. Angelus
3. Spectra
4. Whales
5. Coral Reef
6. Persiflage

7. Tenebrae (1976) 8:32

8. Dirge (1948) 2:59

From Long Ago (1946) 3:37
9. Lone Traveler
10. Obstinate Tune
11. Flight

12. Vita Brevis (1973) 5:27

13. Horizons (1985) 14:11

PERFORMERS
Barbara Pritchard, piano

REVIEWS
"Thanks to the depth, subtlety and assurance of Pritchard’s interpretations on the disc, Pentland’s pieces far exceed the dry-as-dust stereotypes we usually associate with serial-type music. [...] Pritchard’s sparkling, vibrant playing opens up Pentland’s scores, revealing a wonderful lyrical streak, a playfulness that fills this music with life." - John Terauds, Musical Toronto

"Toccata," an album of [Pentland's] solo piano works deftly brought to life by pianist Barbara Pritchard, ranges in character from the bombast of the title work, "Toccata," to glittering impressionism in the final track, "Horizons." - Charlotte Mundy, WQXR

"The selections from Barbara Pritchard’s survey of Canadian composer Barbara Pentland’s music for piano span a period from 1946 to 1985 and include far more than the Toccata that gives the CD its title. The disc is well-named, however: The word “toccata” stems from the verb “to touch,” and while it refers specifically to the physical act of touching the keys, we the listeners are touched here, too, not the least through the sensitivity of Pritchard’s interpretations. Pentland’s embrace of modernism took many forms, but she did not turn her back on beauty (or extra-musical associations), and her imaginative use of pianistic colour, her pliable rhythms and extraordinary ear for pitch relationships contribute to music that is sensuous and reflective. This recording celebrates the centenary of Pentland’s birth, but what it really celebrates is her unique, compelling voice." - Elissa Poole, the Globe and Mail

"[Pentland's] music sings and flows with imagination and colour. These are not the dry ascetic pieces you might expect from a serialist. The first piece on the CD, Toccata (1958), is modelled on the toccatas of Frescobaldi and reflects the baroque virtuosic style of fast trills, arpeggios and hand crossings. Barbara Pritchard played this piece for the composer and gives an exemplary performance. Ephemera (1974–78) is made up of several short pieces named Angelus, Spectre, Whales, Coral Reef and Persiflage.This is an extraordinary set of works and Pritchard’s sensitive tone and attention to detail make this impressionistic-sounding music a mesmerizing experience. The humour that Pentland injects into two of these pieces is charming. A hint of Reveille in Persiflage is quirky and fun. Tenebrae (1976) is full of brooding shadows lovingly played by Pritchard. Dirge from 1948 and From Long Agofrom 1946 illustrate Pentland’s early style and you can hear the influence of Copland, Stravinsky and Bartók on her work. Vita Brevis (1973) and Horizons (1985) complete this excellent CD which should encourage pianists of all levels and musicians of any taste to discover the marvellous, musical world of Barbara Pentland." - Christina Petrowska Quilico, The WholeNote

"The production values of this recording are first-rate, with fine sound quality throughout -- this piano and hall (Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, in Halifax) make for a resonant combination. Barbara Pritchard's pianism is highly suited to this compositional approach, and she is masterful in managing the variety of sound "painting" that the listener encounters. She also brings to these compositions in the best possible light; she has chosen wisely in selecting works that take advantage of her ability to build a soundscape." - Jon Gonder, CAML Review

"Pritchard’s playing is delicate and graceful in the dreamy resonant passages while sharp and incisive in the many accentuated marcato jabs." - Jonathan Goldman, Journal of the Society of American Music





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