Contemporary

SMCQ | À la croisée des pianos 1 : Moritz Ernst and Sandeep Bhagwati’s Literary Musical Universe

by Elena Mandolini

From November 3 to 5, the SMCQ presents a veritable piano marathon. A series of eight concerts will be presented in the concert hall of the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique de Montréal, making this a not-to-be-missed event in contemporary piano. The PAN M 360 team attends the event and shares their impressions with you throughout the three days.

The first of eight concerts in this major SMCQ series is devoted to Sandeep Bhagwati’s large-scale cycle, Music of Crossings. This cycle, which Bhagwati composed spontaneously for pianist Moritz Ernst, will be heard this weekend for the first time in its complete, three-part form. Moritz Ernst himself is responsible for the North American premiere. This event is all the more special in that the SMCQ is dedicating its tribute series this year to Sandeep Bhagwati.

The work itself comprises 36 fragments, varying in length and style. At the origin of these fragments are poems, and structures that are intrinsically literary. As you listen to each piece, the corresponding texts are projected onto the back wall of the room, a welcome gesture that deepens your understanding of the work. In a way, this is an intermedial concert.

Moritz Ernst’s playing is impeccable: the contrasts between the fragments (in terms of nuances, tones, effects, etc.) are convincing and touching. Some fragments are akin to sonority studies, where we are invited to savour intervals and stripped-down melodic lines. By contrast, other fragments are torrents of notes, in which the pianist’s two hands are completely independent. Ernst gives an impressive performance of the highest quality. His playing is always spot-on, adapting to the language of each fragment: lyrical, stripped-down, resonant, intimate.

This first concert is the perfect opening to what promises to be a highly enjoyable musical marathon filled with wonderful discoveries. The rest of the cycle will be presented on Saturday at 6 p.m. (second part) and on Sunday at 6 p.m. (third and final part).

To find out about upcoming concerts in the À la croisée des pianos series, click HERE.

For the complete SMCQ season, click HERE.

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