In his “Sonnet 45” William Shakespeare muses on thought and desire as “present-absent” qualities. Both testify to a bond with the loved one, but they speak also of distance. Pianist Eve Egoyan sings the words of this sonnet as she plays Linda Catlin Smith’s composition Thought and Desire. Her voice has an affectingly delicate, wounded quality, and the piano articulates with comparable sensitivity the rhythmic and melodic contours of the same text, faithfully punctuated. Music and words conspire to convey the bittersweet truth that yearning and imagination are symptoms of separateness. At the same time, Egoyan’s playing seems to spring a hinge between silence and sound, making audible the hyphen that links absence and presence.
Two further world premieres are featured on this beautifully realized and thought-provoking release. The nine movements of Nocturnes and Chorales negotiate a liaison between introspective crepuscular meandering and statements that ring with outgoing purpose. The Underfolding is a self-consciously painterly composition that exploits the piano’s capacity to render textures, layers, and colour combinations. Its figures are elusive, lurking in shade or drawn into more densely harmonized thickets where sonic material is kneaded into a state of mind. Smith’s compositional subtlety and Egoyan’s interpretive grace collude in that remarkable and recurrent alchemy which keeps piano music fresh and vital despite the daunting weight of its history.