music of / musique de David Mott

Label: Centrediscs / Centredisques
Order No: CMCCD 12707

Christina Petrowska Quilico, piano

This collection of piano music spans nearly two decades of music by Canadian composer David Mott, featuring three solo works, as well as his piano concerto Eclipse. The second movement of the concerto, “The Dark Shadowed Moon”, is dedicated to Canadian Astronaut Steve MacLean, who requested the music for listening while in orbit on a space shuttle mission in September 2006. Of his music, David Mott writes: “My feeling that music is about relationship, to Music, to a performer, to an audience, is paramount. Music is always an exploration of sonic time and space, a mystery, a part of the Creative Principle which governs all appearances and disappearances and challenges my desire for ongoing discovery.”

1-3. Eclipse

4. Oud Duo

5. Tango: Under the Winter Moon

6. Dark Masque Masks

“Eclipse is described as a piano concerto. However, the piano is so closely tied to the ensemble that it doesn’t really feel like one. Also, the music’s non-Western influences make it sound like…well, jazzy Lou Harrison…. varied and innovative enough to make it a trip worth taking…. Dark Masque, dedicated to Petrowska Quilico, was inspired by her drawings of theatrical masks. The pianist plays it with gothic intensity and concentration.”

– Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare
David Mott's Eclipse (Centrediscs CMCCD 12707), the latest addition to the Canadian Music Centre's catalogue, is an exceptional disc that showcases aspects of this master musician of which I for one have not been previously aware. Mott is an extremely accomplished baritone saxophonist who has been an integral part of York University and the Toronto music scene for several decades. I have heard him perform on many occasions and have always been impressed by his consummate
musicianship and integrity.

But I had not previously realized that his prowess as a composer extended beyond the realm of his own performance practice. This CD was therefore an ear-opening experience for me.

The title track is a piano concerto written for Christina Petrowska Quilico and scored for a very unusual ensemble: percussion, double bass, synthesizer, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, tabla, dizi, accordion, oud, and the voice of Suba Sankaran. Beginning with a Colin McPhee-like piano/gamelan processional, the three movement work takes us on a journey through the vast terrains of Mott抯 global interests: music from China, Africa, Indonesia and India, with ample portions of jazz and Western contemporary classical music.

What might in other hands have been a "pastiche" turns out to be a well-integrated half-hour tour of Mott's musical psyche. I was particularly intrigued with the way that, late in the third movement, Mott evoked the spirit of McCoy Tyner in the midst of memories of Taiko drumming, tabla riffing, melodic vocalize and suling-like flute lines and how Christina Petrowska Quilico made it all work.

The remainder of the disc could simply be described as Three Pieces for Piano, but to do so would be a disservice. Written between 1987 and 1994, each for a different artist, they all have a distinct character of their own. Oud Duo was written for music theorist Robert D. Morris and its Persian flavour and palindromic structures evidently owe a lot to Morris' personality. Tango: Under the Winter Moon was written at the request of the late Ivar Mikhashoff for his Tango Project which engendered nearly 200 new works.

The final piece, Dark Masque Masks, was written for Christina Petrowska Quilico and takes her "somewhat gothic pen and ink drawings" as its inspiration. It is a testament to Petrowska's artistry that she is able to capture all of these diverse styles in an utterly convincing manner.

-David Olds, Wholenote