My hcmf 2017 started with Montreal's Quatuor Bozzini and pianist Philip Thomas performing three pieces by one of the festival's featured composers, Linda Catlin Smith. Smith's profile has been significantly raised in this country since the release of a portrait CD on Another Timbre, and she featured at Glasgow's Tectonics in May. Her compositional voice is distinct, one that avoids the grand statement in favour of half-familiar nooks and crannies, shading from folkish keening to an elusive chromatic space where Chopin meets Boulez and Feldman. Though each of the pieces, a Piano Quintet and two string quartets, Folkestone and Gondola, shared several aspects in their harmony and gesture, the larger picture as the music unfurled was quite different from piece to piece: the Piano Quintet explored quasi-independence between the bowed and keyed strings, while Folkestone proceeded in short fragments continually beginning again.
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