Stephen Chatman (b.1950) is a prolific and very successful Vancouver based composer who has trodden the familiar 20C path from experimental and fairly wild student days to a sober middle age, "many of Chatman's pre-1980 works are complex, virtuosic and atonal. By the late 1970s, his music embraces collage techniques into a simplified musical language, tonality, modality, minimalism, traditional forms, popular music influences and theatrical elements".
My personal preference is for the younger Chapman, his virtuosic Black and White Fantasy with its jagged wild figuration and alternating black and white key clusters, his extended feline techniqes to suggest his own wild Siamese cat, and the irreverent variations on Home on the Range upon a basis of Haydn's formal string quartet writing. I found the piano quintet and songs rather bland to my taste, but these will be enjoyed by a wider audience (Chapman was the first Canadian shortlisted for Britain's BBC Master Prize competition).
Well recorded and produced, as are all CentreDiscs' windows opening European ears to the diverse developments of Canada's music making.
Copyright © 2006, Peter Grahame Woolf