Ensemble Vivant’s first compact disc recording, Palm Court Pleasures (Trio Vivant) was first released on the Fanfare label in late 1987 and was immediately picked up by Pro Arte/Intersound and re-released on that label in 1988. The pieces presented there continue to be favourites – of ours and of our audiences. And the number of favourites has multiplied several times over during the past two decades. Great music is like that: the more you play or listen to a great work, the richer it becomes. With so many favourites, which ones do you choose for a celebration like the present recording?
Ensemble Vivant’s musical journey these past two decades has been a fascinating voyage of artistic evolution and discovery, and that journey continues! Audience Favourites introduces several works that audiences have loved hearing in concert, but which we have not until now recorded. We have also re-recorded some favourites from earlier Ensemble Vivant recordings, including the gorgeous Chaplin Medley and Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro, both of which were arranged for Ensemble Vivant by Rick Wilkins, C.M., and my own Sackville Street Ballad.
It is a great pleasure to present the world premiere recording of Canadian composer Rick Wilkins’ Divertissement. Written for Ensemble Vivant, each movement is in a different musical genre, representing a few of the diverse genres the group loves to play. This brilliant work is a hit with audiences world-wide.
Rick Wilkins commented: "The combination of piano, violin and cello, otherwise known as Piano Trio, has traditionally been a classical chamber music ensemble, and there is a wealth of repertoire written for Piano Trio in the mainstream classical style. Ensemble Vivant holds the rare distinction of being authentically stylistically diverse, combining their stunning classical performances with interesting works from various jazz idioms. From ragtime and boogie woogie to music from the Gershwin era and tangos by masters such as Piazzolla, their interpretations are authentic and exciting. I was inspired to write a work for Ensemble Vivant that reflects some of the diverse styles they perform. Divertissement is a three-movement work wherein each movement is a different genre. The first movement, circa 1910, is modeled after the classical ideas of the early part of the twentieth century. The second movement, American Ballad, is reflective of music from the Gershwin era. The third movement, Ragtime, combines some of the diverse elements found in ragtime since its beginnings in the late 1800s and continuing to the present."
So too is another world premiere on this disc, Canadian composer John Burke’s Mysterium. When John wrote this piece especially for Ensemble Vivant, it instantly became a favourite, and audiences have been asking for a recorded version ever since.
John Burke commented: “Mysterium, which I gave to Ensemble Vivant as a present, is the seed crystal and animating spirit for a body of ambient music that I created for the purpose of facilitating a contemplative experience. The recent revival of walking the labyrinth as a spiritual tool has resonated strongly with the contemporary world and offers the possibility of initiating an inner journey of integration and wholeness in an eminently participatory way. Music can enhance this effect, and Mysterium, with its circular harmonic structure that mirrors the sacred geometry of the labyrinth itself, is a virtual labyrinth walk in sound. It carries with it the aspiration of serving as a vehicle for the listener’s own process, by engaging the psyche at a profound level.”
On a trip to Paris, I discovered Charles-Marie Widor’s Soirs d’Alsace, a suite of four pieces for piano, violin and cello that are as beautiful as they are unknown. We have included the haunting Ciel d’Orage, introducing it to North American audiences for the first time on disc. Warm audience reaction to our exploration of other beautiful post-romantic French music has inspired the recording of Claude Debussy’s Piano Trio in G Major, his only Piano Trio, and also of Camille Saint-Saëns Septet in E flat Major for piano, trumpet and string quintet. Audience Favourites includes the final movements from both of these French masterpieces.
Ensemble Vivant is also immersed in the performance style of the music of nuevo tango master Astor Piazzolla. With the advantage of working with Piazzolla afficionado Julien Labro, who has arranged many of Piazzolla’s works especially for Ensemble Vivant, we are pleased to include the exciting Fuga Y Mysterio on the present disc.
Rialto Ripples has been an audience favourite for many years, but Ensemble Vivant had not recorded this delightful Rag, written by the very young George Gershwin, until now. Here it is realized in a fuller setting for piano and string quintet.
The popularity of Ensemble Vivant’s two-disc recording, The Music of Leroy Anderson, and the fact that 2008 is the centenary of the birth of Leroy Anderson, were the inspirations for honouring this wonderful composer. We have chosen four Anderson favourites, three in new settings arranged since the previous recording.
We hope the diverse selection on this recording captures our passion for the Classical, Ragtime, Latin and Jazz genres - our love of great music without boundaries. And we hope that our listeners continue to enjoy the journey of musical discovery as much as we do.
Audience Favourites was released by Opening Day Records in 2008.
Opening Day also repackaged all of Ensemble Vivant’s earlier recordings.
Since 2008 Ensemble Vivant have been Opening Day Recording Artists.
Pianist/Artistic Director of Ensemble Vivant
Founder/Artistic Director of Euterpe: Music for Health Canada
Audience Favourites CD
- Chaplin Medley, Charles Chaplin1
- Fuga Y Misterio, Astor Piazzolla2
- Circa 1910 from Divertissement, Rick Wilkins, C.M.
- American Ballad from Divertissement, Rick Wilkins, C.M.
- Ragtime from Divertissement, Rick Wilkins, C.M.
- Mysterium, John Burke
- Finale from Trio in G Major, Claude Debussy
- I Never Know When, Leroy Anderson1
- O Mio Babbino Caro, Giacomo Puccini1
- Sandpaper Ballet, Leroy Anderson1
- Ciel D’Orage from Soir d’Alsace, Charles-Marie Widor
- Rialto Ripples, George Gershwin/ Will Donaldson1
- A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, Leroy Anderson (arr. Anderson/Seguin)
- Gavotte and Finale from Septet in E Flat Major, Camille Saint-Saëns
- Arietta, Leroy Anderson1
- Sackville Street Ballad, Catherine Wilson
- arr for Ensemble Vivant by Rick Wilkins, C.M.
- arr for Ensemble Vivant by Julien Labro
Catherine Wilson, Piano/Artistic Director
Erica Beston, violin
Norman Hathaway, violin
Sharon Prater, cello
Dave Young, bass
With Special Guests:
Jonathan Craig, viola
Philip Seguin, trumpet