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Carl Vollrath: Three Pastels for Piano & Orchestra

By Karolina Rojahn

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By Karolina Rojahn, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, and Petr Vronský. By Carl Vollrath. Country of Origin: United States. Classical. Listening CD. Published by Naxos (NX.NV6039).

Item Number: NX.NV6039

On his Navona Records release THREE PASTELS FOR PIANO & ORCHESTRA, composer Carl Vollrath presents his three piano concerti, written between 2012 and 2015. Representing some of his most recent work, these concerti are connected to each other thematically, and in a way portray a different hue of the same color. Vollrath prefers to regard these works as "pastels" since he approaches them with a functional intention, evoking imagery or scenery in an abstract way, allowing the listener to create their own interpretation. While written in a neo-impressionistic lexicon, these "pastels" are influenced significantly by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Bartok's piano concerti, Eastern classical scales and folk music, and jazz piano. Performed by pianist Karolina Rojahn and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Petr Vronský, the piano and various orchestral sections develop unique characteristics, supporting, contrasting, and complimenting each other. The piano's lyrical personality weaves itself throughout the works' movements, from sensual and controlled sections to frantic and spontaneous moments, employing jazz elements, chromaticism, and rhythmic emphasis to develop its narrative. Although these works have passages of dramatic flourish, Vollrath's sense of lightheartedness remains a building block, placing ironic and witty phrases throughout to deliver a captivating, dynamic, and moving experience. American Record Guide calls Vollrath a composer who "approaches his pieces with respect and care". An avid proponent of contemporary music, pianist Karolina Rojahn has premiered over a 100 new works by both established and emerging composers, and has recorded over 18 albums of contemporary solo and chamber music repertoire for MMC and Navona Records, including music by Carl Vollrath, Jason Barabba, Byron Petty, William Fletcher, Alan Beeler, Michael J. Evans, Rachel Lee Guthrie, Martin Schlumpf, Ron Nagorcka, David Stewart, Sergio Cervetti, and Alexandra Ottaway. Established in 1945, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the foremost and oldest symphonic orchestras in the Czech Republic and has been premiered and recorded hundreds of works by contemporary composers. Conductor Petr Vronský is recognized for his highly vivid technique and strong sense of interpretation. His repertoire includes more than 200 classical and modern symphonic works and operas. Vollrath's two volumes of works for clarinet and piano, PAST R*E*COLLECTIONS (2015) and LINGERING LONGINGS (2016) are available on Navona Records, and are praised for having "a straightforward lyricism at times, and a dance-like colloquial feel at others, but always a nicely unpretentious air of somewhat complicated simplicity" (Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review). His compositional output includes an opera, orchestral music, symphonies for winds, chamber music, and solo piano works. Since 1965, Vollrath has been a member of the music faculty at Troy University in Alabama.

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