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Video: Toronto pianist Catherine Wilson on truth, art and Astor Piazzolla

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That’s a heady buildup to what is no more and no less than a very nice music video made by Torontonians: pianist Catherine Wilson and all-purpose visual artist and musician Robert DiVito.

Wilson supplied the music — a piano-solo transcription of Oblivion, one of Astor Piazzolla’s better known tangos, from 1982 — and a theme: Art is Truth.

She supplied it in French, actually, as L’art c’est la vérité, because I guess some things sound deeper in other languages.

The kernel of this tidy little aphorism is drawn from Romanticism. In the 20th century, German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was part of a generation that, faced with the rise of totalitarianism and the black arts of propaganda, wrote that truth putting itself into play is the essence of art.

I think the French philosopher Alain (real name: Émile Chartier — 1868-1951 ) left us with less guesswork when he wrote that the arts are like mirrors where man sees and recognises something of himself (“Tous les arts sont comme des miroirs où l’homme connaît et reconnaît quelque chose de lui-même“).

In DiVito’s video, the outdoor scenes are real — shot in Orillia (Ontario) and Paris (France) — but the indoor views of Wilson playing in a ruined room are not real. They come from a green screen in a Toronto studio.

So, to help us meditate on the fuzzy intersections of art, truth, fiction, Self and Other, here is some deceptively simple music:

Oblivion is one of the pieces on Wilson’s fairly recent album, Homage to Piazzolla, made with her Ensemble Vivant colleagues. Details here.

John Terauds

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