Carr-Petrova Duo | Novel Voices

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Novel Voices

by Carr-Petrova Duo

A viola and piano album featuring masterpieces written by composers (Khachaturian, Weinberg, Clarke, A. Lascurain) who faced tremendous adversity but who nevertheless used their art, through catharsis, to help find their place and voice in foreign lands.
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. "Lullaby" From Gayaneh (Arr. Carr-Petrova Duo)
Carr-Petrova Duo & Aram Khachaturian
4:53 $0.99
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2. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 28 (Arr. for Viola J. Adler): I. Allegro
Carr-Petrova Duo & Mieczysław Weinberg
6:27 $0.99
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3. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 28 (Arr. for Viola J. Adler): II. Allegretto
Carr-Petrova Duo & Mieczysław Weinberg
7:39 $0.99
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4. Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 28 (Arr. for Viola J. Adler): III. Adagio
Carr-Petrova Duo & Mieczysław Weinberg
7:43 $0.99
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5. Sonata for Viola and Piano: I. Impetuoso. Poco Agitato
Carr-Petrova Duo & Rebecca Clarke
8:29 $0.99
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6. Sonata for Viola and Piano: II. Vivace
Carr-Petrova Duo & Rebecca Clarke
4:02 $0.99
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7. Sonata for Viola and Piano: III. Adagio - Allegro
Carr-Petrova Duo & Rebecca Clarke
11:37 $0.99
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8. Novel Voices: I. Stories and Dreams
Carr-Petrova Duo & Fernando Arroyo Lascurain
7:13 $0.99
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9. Novel Voices: II. Dance of Uncertainty
Carr-Petrova Duo & Fernando Arroyo Lascurain
4:17 $0.99
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10. Novel Voices: III. Call and Prayer
Carr-Petrova Duo & Fernando Arroyo Lascurain
5:16 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

Emily Dickinson


Novel voices sometimes take time to be heard. They need a special kind of nurturing, of advocacy, of defense. They are fragile, like the wings of a bird - and yet, they can make us fly; "hope" is the thing with feathers, as Dickinson says. Their struggle is long and always courageous. They must fight their circumstances, their past, their uncertain future, and above all, fight those other voices that want to thwart them continually, mock them, imprison them, hamper their dreams, wreck or ignore their important messages. These messages - which like morning light show us the possibilities in tomorrow and the "hope" inherent in all tragedies - are what the music chosen for this album tries to capture: works written by composers who faced tremendous adversity but who nevertheless used their art, through catharsis, to help find their place and voice in foreign lands.

Novel Voices is also what we titled a project we dreamed up together. We designed the Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project to give voice and visibility, through music and film, to the lives and struggles of refugee communities around the world, and to encourage audiences and artists alike to become connected and involved. Through the project, we brought free interactive classical music concerts to displaced populations while increasing awareness of and raising support for both U.S.-based and international refugee-aid programs.

Within this album live several novel voices, and they are novel for many different reasons. Khachaturian, the Armenian working in Moscow, who emerged victorious from the shackles of official state censorship; Clarke, a British female composer working in the United States, who – whilst writing in a male-dominated world - gifted the planet with a sonata for viola and piano that has become one the masterpieces of the century and an icon of this noblest of instruments, despite being one that is constantly at the mercy of the violin's shadow; Weinberg, a Polish Jew in Soviet Russia, doubly marginalized by virtue of both his Jewishness and his Polishness, forced to displace himself to another country because his own was occupied by the Nazis (who murdered his sister and parents), writing music that showed us all that one's ethnic roots alongside one's pains and joys could be turned into powerful art. And lastly, Fernando Arroyo Lascurain's piece, Novel Voices, a unique composition inspired by our travels through the Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project into refugee camps and support programs in the US, Europe, and the Middle East – during which we performed concerts and workshops, as well as listened to, learned from, documented, and recorded the stories of our refugee audience members. Lascurain used our conversations and encounters as the basis for an original musical composition, giving the project’s refugee participants and their stories a novel musical voice.

In Gayaneh, the 1930’s ballet, Aram Khachaturian portrays the story of the heroine in the title: a woman fighting mightily between romance and love on one side, and nationalistic zeal on the other. At the climax of the ballet, the plot comes to a halt, and Gayaneh, deploring her husband's cruelty and behavior towards her, begins to sing her child to sleep with a haunting lullaby of mysterious beauty. As is well known, lullabies are ancestral music, sung to children in all countries at all times, in order to encourage relaxation and sleep - and most importantly, in order to soothe and alleviate any pains or worries while providing a feeling of hope and the protection of motherly care. A lullaby can also offer a novel voice to a mother’s worries and concerns, giving her the opportunity to literally "be heard" - and thus soothing not only the child, but also the mother. A lullaby can also enable courage and resilience during times of distress or vulnerability or during times of adversity and pain. Thus begins this album, a musical project which has become our own very personal lullaby to the many children we met during our visits to the refugee camps and a testimony to our belief in the healing power of art and music. We too, gave a novel voice to this ballet excerpt, Lullaby, transcribing it for viola and piano.

With Mieczysław Weinberg's Clarinet Sonata (arranged for viola by Julia Rebekka Adler), we momentarily leave the promise of hope and enter full-heartedly into the realm of tragedy, an ever-present companion in the life of refugees. Essentially, though, the darkness here serves actively as a background to something maybe even more important: the finding of some kind of peace, of building one's place and voice in this world. The tragedy is the locus of transformation.

Most of Weinberg's music has a programmatic element, and this Clarinet Sonata constitutes the composer's response to the discovery of the deaths of his sister and parents in the Polish Trawniki concentration camp during the Holocaust. Weinberg was born in Warsaw, of Jewish and Moldovian descent. After initial studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, he was preparing to enter the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, in order to study with the legendary pianist Jozef Hofmann, when Poland was invaded by the Nazis in 1939. Weinberg was only 20 years old. Already in Warsaw, by virtue of his Moldovian and Jewish roots, he experienced estrangement - but nothing could prepare him for the next years. Relocating to the Soviet Union (first to Minsk, later to Tashkent, and finally to Moscow) Weinberg lived a penniless existence, writing music for the circus and suffering neglect, censorship, and even imprisonment by the Soviet regime.

The Clarinet Sonata, in its three movements, runs the full gamut of human experience, ranging from meandering monologues of contemplative beauty, to music hall songs, secular Jewish music, dance-like passages of playful yet ironic and biting qualities, dark moods of impending doom, puckish and sardonic contrasts, unabashed anguish, bucolic freshness, klezmerian laments, pleasant and pastoral charm, even coyness, alternating with obsessive and piercing rhythms, veiled irony, bittersweet melancholy, hints of cabaret music, and a heart-breaking adagio in which the music debates itself between grace and resignation. This huge fresco, showing in novel ways how music and the theater are inextricably linked (both his parents worked in a theater, and he grew up playing in it), paves the way for our second heroine of the album: Rebecca Clarke.

Rebecca Clarke, a British composer educated in London's elite music schools, was one of the first female orchestral players in the world, becoming a member of the Queen's Hall Orchestra of London in 1912, at the age of 26. She was also, courageously, a composer in a world that hardly accepted females amongst its professional culture. She established herself, nevertheless, within a very short period of time at the top of her field through three masterpieces: the Rhapsody for Cello and Piano, the Piano Trio, and most importantly for this album, the Viola Sonata.

Clarke moved to the United States at the age of thirty in search of better professional prospects and opportunities, and three years later, famously entered a male-dominated composition competition sponsored by the wealthy American philanthropist Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (one of the most important patrons of the arts of the time). Out of a field of seventy-two candidates for the prize, her Viola Sonata came in first, tied with a composition by Ernest Bloch. Ultimately, though, the award went single-handedly to Bloch, amidst prejudice-ridden rumors speculating that "Rebecca Clarke" was simply a pseudonym for another male composer, because "it could not have been" a woman who had written such a beautiful piece of music - for it was socially inconceivable, unacceptable. Episodes like this one triggered in Clarke a life of chronic depression, exacerbated by a childhood of parental abuse. She found solace and peace in composition and crafted music of ravishing beauty.

The Viola Sonata has almost become the flagship for the advocacy of the viola as a solo instrument, and is now considered one of the magnificent jewels of the chamber music literature. The piece is headlined by a poem-incipit written on the first page, almost as if Rebecca Clarke encouraged herself: "Poet, take up your lute." This could very well be a motto for us, and one of the essential messages of this album, too: an injunction to take up one's lute in order to heal from the tragedy so often inherent in human existence.

The work is cast in three movements that navigate rhapsodically between vibrant fanfares that announce both pride and a desire to overcome obstacles, fairy-tale music of dreams, pensive and sensual monologues, brilliant and pyrotechnical displays showcasing the viola’s full range of expressive and virtuosic possibilities, and a piano part of great lyrical beauty and expansiveness. Clarke was a consummate player, and she left us, with her Viola Sonata, a gift for all times.

After two heroines and a tragic moment, we enter the final celebration of the real "novel voice" of this album: the voices of all of the children we met during our trips and their moving life stories. Fernando Arroyo Lascurain, a young Mexican composer who accompanied us on our journeys, has added a magnificent new work to the viola and piano repertoire, the live soundtrack of our project and dream. Its three movements are:

1. Stories and Dreams
2. Dance of Uncertainty
3. Call and Prayer

The work stands as a mosaic of musical cultures, as Lascurain magically weaves together the different musics of the various children's ancestral cultures we encountered: from Arabic music to the music of Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, Chechnya, and without forgetting, of course, Lascurain's native Mexico and his predilection for film music.

And thus ends our poem of hope, our lullaby for all ages, our "tune without words" - that hopefully will never cease...

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