Monica Pearce writes music new to me, yet I feel close to it in temperament. If you do not yet know of her, count her as a significant Canadian composer acclaimed especially for her chamber music and operatic works.
She gives us a rather astonishing program of music for piano, keyboard and percussion on her just-up album Textile Fantasies (Centrediscs CMCCD 30322). Each of the eight medium-length compositions given a hearing on the album devotes itself to a particular textile and the texture associated with it. So for example there is the opening “Toile de Jouy,” which explores the feel of canvas in a rather dense motility for harpsichord. It is almost Cecil Tayloresque in its busy, densely noteful expression.
From there Ms. Pearce takes us to some magical music places, all of which yield a metaphoric connection between texture and sound. Some such links strike me as startlingly surprising, such as the toy piano and tabla raga-like exploration of “Damask,” or the percussion ensemble workout with an almost swinging rhythmic thrust on “Denim.” Ar how about a sonic colored percussion fantasia followed by rollicking piano-percussion rhythmic spice on “Leather.”
“Chain Maille” gives the percussion group a telegraphic periodicity suggested by the woven metal patterning of the chain mail of older times. The solo piano “Houndstooth” forms a ravishing high point of sonic vibrancy, almost George Crumb like in its reflective ecstatics, but then ultimately very Pearce-original and satisfying. I love this! I wont give you any further examples because you I hope get the idea. Every work is its own mini-adventure, imaginative and meaningful each in its own way.
Go to monicapearce.com to see and hear some videos of this music. The album is out officially on 13 Oct of 2022. It is absolutely lovely at its best, nicely apportioned at any event throughout. I must say I’ve really enjoyed hearing this one. Do not miss it!