musique contemporaine

SMCQ | À la croisée des pianos 3 : Erik Bertsch and Pamela Reimer

by Alexandre Villemaire

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 attended the event and shared their impressions throughout the three days.

Led by pianists Erik Bertsch and Pamela Reimer, the third recital offered a range of luminous, percussive worlds in two parts, each featuring two new creations. Playing in the first part, Erik Bertsch premiered Michael Oesterle’s twenty habituels. Miniatures for piano, reminiscent at times of French and German music from the first half of the 20th century, these short pieces present contrasting characters and dynamics, each expressing recurring thematic ideas. Fabio Nieder’s Vom Himmel hoch, da kommt eim Engel ha zu Dir is based on Martin Luther’s chorale of the same name. Here, the musical quotation is presented over the piano’s four octaves in such a slow tempo that the melody increases in value over time, making use of the piano’s resonance and harmonics to create a soaring atmosphere. Ivan Fedele’s Études boréales (Boreal Studies) follow on from the same aerial resonance aesthetic, offering an active, luminous dynamic with sound aggregates supported by the committed resonance of the piano’s una corda pedal. Erik Bertsch delivered the pieces with great technical mastery and attention to nuance, particularly in the Nieder piece.


In the second half of the recital, Pamela Reimer offered a more explosive program. Luciano Berio’s Sequenza IV is dense and typical of the writing of the Darmstadt school. Enno Poppe’s Thema mit 840 Variationen explores how a simple motivic idea can be developed to imposing proportions with a theme of a single second interval, which unfolds over the full range of the piano with force. The second work of the evening, Salto Piano Montale, by Yuliya Zakharava, was composed for and in collaboration with Pamela Reimer. It is a stylistically heterogeneous pastiche through which various musical quotations are grafted, from Bach to Belarusian folklore, Ukrainian war songs and even I Will Survive! The finale of the piece is reserved for improvisation. Reimer delivered a passage reminiscent of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom.

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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