David Potvin: Honouring Canadian Repertoire

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

Pianist David Potvin struggled to settle on a name for his debut album, which comes out on April 19 under Leaf Music. With a hearty chuckle, he explains how he made his choice: “I don’t want to say that the title came to me in a dream, but I remember it was Day 3 in Domaine Forget (where we were recording), and I woke up in the middle of the night and said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’m going to call it!’”

The title he chose? Catharsis—a fitting name for an album that ebbs and flows between intense passion and meditative reflection.

The album’s origins date back to 2022, when Potvin won first place at the prestigious Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition and then embarked on a cross-country recital tour featuring an all-Canadian program as part of his prize. He played three of the four pieces featured on Catharsis during that tour—murmuration by Keiko Devaux, Growing Forgiveness by Cris Derksen, and Jean Coulthard’s 13 Preludes for Piano. Audience members consistently approached Potvin after his performances to share that these three works had resonated with them, perhaps a reflection of the pianist’s own deep connection to these pieces.

“Derksen’s work is very rhythmically driving, but it’s very tonal. Coulthard’s music is rhythmically more flexible and supple, but uses suggestions of tonality, and then Keiko’s piece is really textural,” he explains. “They’re all written in different languages, but they share two main things that really draw me to them: first, this type of passion that makes you feel as a performer that you’ve gone through something on stage—that you’ve shared a little bit of yourself with the audience. The other thing is that there are lots of possibilities to explore colour palettes. That keeps it fresh when you’re working on the piece, and when you perform it.”

Potvin has become increasingly discerning with his repertoire choices since the birth of his son two years ago. “When you have limited time to practise, you want to be practising something that is really meaningful to you—that’s going to make an impact for your audiences.” The album’s closer, his own transcription of an orchestral work by Coulthard which he quietly worked on during the early days of his son’s infancy, is a perfect example of the heartfelt, personal playing that gives Catharsis its magic.

For Potvin, Catharsis is very much an outward-looking project. This marks the first time any of these works has been commercially recorded. The goal was to “record pieces that audiences deserve to have wider access to. It was about trying to contribute something to the repertoire.” With an air of good humour and self-deprecation, he concludes, “If no one ever hires me for a concert again, I’ve contributed something to this musical world, and specifically Canada’s musical landscape.”

To learn more about Catharsis, and stream the album starting April 19, visit www.leaf-music.ca.
Potvin makes his Debut Atlantic tour this fall www.david-potvin.com; www.debutatlantic.ca.
Catharsis was recorded with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


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