The making of this recording evolved organically through popular demand and support from many. One demand was that I record more solo piano selections, including of much-loved classical favourites in the repertoire. The solo piano and ensemble pieces for this recording were largely chosen by stalwart fans of mine and of Ensemble Vivant. Although it wasn’t possible to include all of the many requests received, we strove to include a balanced program that reflects many of the diverse styles that we love to play.
As I was asked repeatedly to play more music by Frederic Chopin, I included both his much-loved gorgeous Etude in E Major, Op. 10. No. 3 and his spell-binding Berceuse, Op. 57 in D Flat Major, both for solo piano. With the group’s love of performing music from the baroque era, this recording opens with Preludium, from Cantata BWV 29 by J.S. Bach. Tango is another tradition for Ensemble Vivant, and Leroy Anderson’s Blue Tango, a suggestion by our producer and arranger, jazz great Rick Wilkins, a big champion of Ensemble Vivant’s music-making, made it onto the program. The world-premiere of my piece Knollwood Place was also by popular demand. And so it goes, one piece after the other, all beautiful classic repertoire.
June, 1995 was reported to be the hottest June in well over a decade. Humbercrest United Church in Toronto had been my group’s regular recording venue, starting with our debut CD Palm Court Pleasures, followed by Palm Court Encores, Christmas Tidings and The Romantics. With record high temperatures and humidex, recording in an un-air-conditioned environment in such crippling heat was near-impossible. One complete take after another was how it flowed, and you’ll hear the birds accompanying me on my performance of Chopin’s Berceuse.
Five pieces from this recording were realized in beautiful film created by New York’s award-winning videographer Peter Rosen as part of an educational music series. These videos have received frequent play over the years on Classic Arts Showcase and PBS.
Included is my solo performance of Chopin’s Berceuse, (with birds singing); my original composition Knollwood Place, arr for piano trio; Gershwin’s Prelude No. 3 for solo piano; Bach’s Preludium, arr for piano trio; and Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag , arr for the quintet of piano, violin, viola, cello and bass. All arrangements were written by Rick Wilkins, C.M.
- Preludium from Cantata BWV 29, J.S. Bach – piano, violin, cello1
- Etude Op. 10, No. 3 in E Major, Frederic Chopin – solo piano
- Berceuse Op. 57 in D Flat Major, Frederic Chopin – solo piano
Three Preludes: George Gerswhin – solo piano
- Allegro ben ritmato
- Andante con moto e poco rubato
- Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
- Knollwood Place: Catherine Wilson1 – piano, violin, cello
- Ritual Fire Dance from El Amor Brujo, Manuel de Falla1 – piano, violin, viola, cello, bass
- Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte, Maurice Ravel – solo piano
- Chaplin Medley, Charles Chaplin1 – piano, violin, viola, cello, bass
- Blue Tango, Leroy Anderson1 – piano, violin, cello
- Gymnopédie No. 1
- Gymnopédie No. 2
- Gymnopédie No. 3
- O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi, COMPOSER1 – piano, violin, cello
- Für Elise, Bagatellle in e minor WoO 59, Ludwig van Beethoven1 – solo piano
- Salut d’Amour, Edgar Elgar – piano, violin, cello
- Maple Leaf Rag, Scott Joplin1 – piano, violin, viola, cello, bass
- arr for Ensemble Vivant by Rick Wilkins, C.M.
Catherine Wilson, Piano/Artistic Director
Mark Skazinetsky, violin
Norman Hathaway, viola
Jack Mendelsohn, cello
Joel Quarrington, bass
Catherine Wilson’s Ragtime playing is second to none…virtuoso technique and beautiful touch with the right feel and grove combined with a rich musical imagination.
American Ragtime composer, pianist
The greatest selling point of the ensemble was the players’ masterful interpretative style. Whether playing a lyrical ballad, a spirited rag, or a sensuous tango, Ensemble Vivant captured the appropriate style instantly. The sense of ensemble was likewise impeccable, with entrances, articulations and dynamics mirrored precisely … an overwhelming success. The trio was equally at home with traditional classics and original compositions.
New Brunswick, Canada
…Thanks again for a great performance and wonderful program…molti bravi to Ensemble Vivant… please have Ensemble Vivant return very soon!
de Blasiis CMS at the Hyde
Led by a remarkable pianist, Catherine Wilson, Ensemble Vivant boasts a collection of musicians whose abilities and qualifications are second to none… a diversity of beautifully played music and sound (with vibes… Don Thompson, O.C.) from Bach to Piazzolla to Widor… wonderful interpretations… highlight of the Kelowna Community Concert Association series. I had the pleasure of spending time with the group after the concert and they are a fun, humble and inspiring group of musicians… such tremendous mutual talent and respect within the ensemble… Merci Ensemble Vivant!
musician, composer for B.C. Arts