The publicity material for the first Centrediscs CD completely devoted to Alexina Louie (b.1949) describes her as one of Canada's most popular and engaging composers. Having listened to these four works, I find this appropriate.
Music from Night's Edge (1988) is an imaginative piano quintet which takes inspiration from a range of night images, but can be taken without reference to these stimuli. It holds interest and makes you keen to listen on. The later string quartet Dénouement (1994) is compact and dramatic, with a 'hyper-romantic' climax.
The disc is completed with two earlier pieces for twelve instruments, each a little over a quarter hour long. Music for a Thousand Autumns (1985) introduces oriental elements, including the ancient tune Yearning on the River Shiang, which she had learned to play on the ch'in (Alexina's parents were second-generation Canadians of Chinese descent) and Demon Gate (1987) explores ghost stories, using various contemporary compositional devices to convey extreme emotions.
A satisfying Composer Portrait and I would hope this CD will help some of Alexina Louie's music to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean to UK, where we are all too ignorant of the Canadian musical scene!
Copyright © 2002, Peter Grahame Woolf