When I first wrote these pieces, I had no set concept of what they “meant.” I just wanted to write three piano trios with violin and cello. In earlier centuries, the harpsichord, which has a softer sound than today’s grand piano, was the most common keyboard instrument, and did not overpower like today’s pianos. Particularly during the recording process, the power of the grand piano needs to be balanced by instruments like strings. The violin and cello, representing an orchestra in a way, balance the sound of the piano in this project.


I didn’t look into creating titles until the trios were completed. After a colleague of mine at Troy University, Dr. Andrew Kreps, listened to my first trio, he told me that it reminded him of images he had seen of ancient Peruvian cave paintings. These paintings, which date back to pre-Egyptian times, are mainly of animals. The paintings cannot be reproduced.


Looking at images of these cave paintings made me start to wonder: what was it like to live back then? Who were these people, and how did they think? What did they do? These considerations, as well as the input of another one of my colleagues, Dr. Michael Orlofsky, led me to my title, SOULS IN TRANSITIONS. Each trio in this album looks into different aspects of the afterlife and ancient traditions surrounding life and immortality. The first piano trio, The Secrets of the Magdalenian Caves consists of two movements and is centered on the aforementioned narrative surrounding the Peruvian cave paintings.


The second piano trio in three-movements, Tombs of Ancient Times, brings to mind the traditions surrounding passing in ancient Egypt. After a person died and was placed in his or her tomb, community members would bring food to the tomb so that the person would have something to eat on the journey to the afterlife. The belief was that those who physically passed were still alive, but were simply in a different place.


The third and final piano trio, the three-movement Buddha of the Future, reflects on the Buddhist religion, and how the image of Buddha has changed over time. Religion is in a constant state of flux, changing as mankind itself evolves.


SOULS IN TRANSITIONS is filled with motives that repeat throughout. To me, they are like clouds, or ocean waves—they all look the same from afar, but when you look closely, each is unique. Every moment of the album brings a new chance for discovery.


Carl Vollrath







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