VOLLRATH Transit Voices – Underground landscapes

Record and Artist Details

Genre:

Chamber

Label: Navona

Media Format: CD or Download

Media Runtime: 130

Mastering:

DDD

Catalogue Number: NV6332

NV62332. VOLLRATH Transit Voices – Underground landscapes

Tracks:

Composition Artist Credit
Merging Memories Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Testament II Carl Vollrath, Composer
Jeremy Samolesky, Piano
Laura Usiskin, Cello
Timothy Phillips, Clarinet
The Unknown Harbinger Carl Vollrath, Composer
Jeremy Samolesky, Piano
Laura Usiskin, Cello
Timothy Phillips, Clarinet
Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Sharan Leventhal, Violin
Pollock's Pictures Carl Vollrath, Composer
Jonathan Miller, Cello
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Testament I Carl Vollrath, Composer
Jonathan Miller, Cello
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Sonata for Clarinet No 4 Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Sonata for Clarinet No 5 Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Bela's Bash Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet
Sharan Leventhal, Violin
Farewell to a Virgin Carl Vollrath, Composer
Randall Hodgkinson, Piano
Rane Moore, Clarinet

Carl Vollrath’s (b1931) music for clarinet has been well served by Navona on three previous releases and this new two-disc set. As with those predecessors, ‘Transit Voices’ is built on interconnections of subject matter in the 10 works featured such that, were this a rock disc, it would be clearly categorisable as a ‘concept album’.

Vollrath’s music is purely acoustic and postmodern classical, however. His themes are often angular, but the harmonic framework never strays too far from tonality. The ‘concept’ derives from Andrew Robinson’s book Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts (2009). ‘Most of humanity’s past’, writes the composer in a characteristically brief, generalised booklet note, ‘was not written down until rather late, and stories before that time were passed on orally. Records found are tokens which can only be pieced together as clues; even if understood today, they would now have different meanings.’

Vollrath has taken that idea and grouped these works (it is not stated when they were composed, nor is it clear whether they were written intentionally as a series) into a sequence where clues and tokens of past music are reworked within his own idiom – rather like words in modern usage that may have meant something different five centuries ago. The approach is illustrated in Bela’s Bash, scored for the same trio as Bartók’s Contrasts. Vollrath does not overwork the opening’s Hungarian twang; rather it serves as the springboard for his own invention. The same is true of Pollock’s Pictures, a vivid trio for clarinet, cello and piano, where three of Pollock’s paintings – Guardians of the Secret, Convergence and Cathedral – serve a similar function. The music reflects, I assume, the composer’s reaction to the art: certainly, there is little of the teeming energy and piled-up, overlain lines of the paintings in Vollrath’s lucid textures.

Each work has a different starting point, although – the explicit titles aside – there is little clue as to what they might be! The performances are uniformly exquisite (a couple of minor intonational wobbles aside) and audibly on Vollrath’s wavelength expressively. Rane Moore (who has the lion’s share of the playing) and Timothy Phillips both have a warm, smooth tone. Randall Hodgkinson is a fine accompanist, for example in the two sonatas and Merging Memories, and a sensitive partner for Sharan Leventhal in the Trio, arguably the finest work here and a minor masterpiece, as well as cellist Jonathan Miller. It is instructive to compare the tonal qualities of the Moore-Miller-Hodgkinson trio in Testament I with that of Phillips, Usiskin and Samolesky in Testament II and The Unknown Harbinger. Both trios are so attuned to Vollrath’s style as to be indistinguishable from each other. Recommended.

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