IN THIS (PANDEMIC) TIME is a Kurated series informed by COVID-19. For now, our days are different. I very much hope you’re all managing. These columns aim to entertain, calm, inspire and energize. Onwards!
ALEXANDRA STRÉLISKI’S NEO-CLASSICAL PIANO STYLE
Award-winning Quebec pianist’s compositions are playing on the big screen
Montreal neo-classical composer and pianist Alexandra Stréliski was going to make her Juno Awards debut two weeks ago tonight thanks to her three nominations for best album, breakthrough artist and instrumental album.
But the COVID-19 crisis vetoed the national telecast. Viewers would have heard a 35-year old artist whose work has drawn attention thanks to Canadian film director Jean-Marc Vallée. The filmmaker chose her music for several films including Dallas Buyers Club, Demolition and Big Little Lies. And he commissioned her to write a score for his HBO miniseries Sharp Objects.
Stréliski’s 2018 release, Inscape, was the top classical album on Apple Music that year and put her on Canada’s Polaris Award long list. She won two Felix Awards – a Quebec’s prize for musicians and humourists. Stréliski is someone to keep an ear out for.
26 October 2019
By Matt Bobkin / Exclaim!
There’s always been a cinematic quality to Alexandra Stréliski’s music, honed from years working in advertising as a composer. In the eight years since quietly self-releasing debut album Pianoscope, slowly the world started taking notice, until director Jean-Marc Vallée placed songs from the record in his works, including Dallas Buyers Club, Demolition and the trailer of Big Little Lies. Now, Stréliski has left advertising to pursue music full-time, and Inscape marks the launch pad with which she’ll do so.
Where Pianoscope looked outward with its rich, sprightly piano tracks, Inscape turns its gaze inward, swapping the sprightliness for touches of melancholy and yearning. The album title is a portmanteau of “interior” and “landscape,” but its similarity to “escape” shouldn’t go unnoticed — each track carries a delicate wistfulness, a hopeful glance out a rainy window toward a brighter future.
That Stréliski is so capable of evoking such emotional complexity out of a single instrument heralds much to come as she continues to approach the height of her compositional powers — faint traces of synthesizer on “Interlude” only serve to heighten expectations.
Standing tall among recent solo piano records by fellow Canadian composers Chilly Gonzales and Jean-Michel Blais, Inscape is a powerful look toward a new neoclassical landscape. (Secret City)