In preparation for my review of Cheryl Duvall’s and Anna Höstman’s beautiful new disc Harbour for exclaim.ca, I reached out to Duvall here in Toronto to discuss the recording and her working relationship with the Victoria, B.C.-based composer.
I’ve prepared a lengthy feature on Harbour for ep. 89 of The Moderns. That’ll be posted Jan. 19. Meantime, here’s an additional segment I’ve reserved for blog readers.
You and Anna have been collaborating since 2012.
Our friendship has grown through many years of working together. There’s definitely something there. I don’t know if I can put words to it, but her music really speaks to me.
How would you describe your playing style?
I really love exploring different touches and different colours, textures and momentums in music: more than I enjoy digging into a super-virtuosic piece. Even though I will do that kind of stuff, I prefer the more experimental approach to finding new colours and approaches to the tone of the piano. It’s quite monochromatic in a way, and there’s so much that you can do with touch.
Does that style connect to a broader aesthetic sense?
I would say so. I think that a lot of the pieces we choose in our ensemble, as well as for myself, do have a tendency to have textural qualities.
Texture has become so prominent in new electronic music as well. Is there a parallel for you?
I went to a really cool electronic music show last night. It’s not something I’m one-hundred per cent involved in, but I really like anything that’s innovative or boundary-pushing, anything I haven’t heard before. That peaks my curiosity. As electronic music is evolving, I find it really interesting to hear what the edges of that style are. I sometimes do electroacoustic works with piano or with our ensemble – pieces with electronics.
What’s driving this interest in texture? What do you think artists are communicating?
It’s interesting. When I think about all the different works that I’m preparing at the moment, everybody is doing things that are so different. But it does come back to texture. A lot of composers that I’m working with right now are digging into more personal ways to express themselves and their relationships with performance through music. Finding ways to do that, we’re all very complicated and have many layers as people. Maybe texture is a way to show that through music.