Old & New Poetry

Vocal Works From The Texts Of William Blake, Sara Teasdale & John Gracen Brown

Carl Vollrath composer

Aliana de la Guardia mezzo-soprano
Emalie Savoy soprano
Yoko Hagino piano
Nathan Brandwein piano
Timothy Phillips clarinet
Philipp Stäudlin saxophone

Release Date: June 11, 2021
Catalog #: NV6342
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Vocal Music
Clarinet
Saxophone
Voice

Carl Vollrath’s OLD AND NEW POETRY from Navona Records is a lovingly-prepared setting of the works of seminal poets William Blake and Sara Teasdale, as well as the contemporary writer John Gracen Brown. The verses chosen by Vollrath—including such varied selections as Blake’s “The Fly,” Teasdale’s “Dusk In War Time,” and Brown’s “The Coming of a Summer Rainstorm”—all reflect the composer’s belief in the interdependency of all life on earth. Employing piano, saxophone, and mezzo-soprano, Vollrath thoughtfully pushes tonal boundaries in response to the poetic language. The evocative performances captured on OLD AND NEW POETRY reveal the composer’s intimate relationship with the text and offer listeners a compelling musical-literary experience.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 5 Songs on the Text of William Blake: No. 1, The Wild Flowers Song Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 1:26
02 5 Songs on the Text of William Blake: No. 2, Eternity Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 0:53
03 5 Songs on the Text of William Blake: No. 3, The Angel Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 1:51
04 5 Songs on the Text of William Blake: No. 4, The Fly Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 0:49
05 5 Songs on the Text of William Blake: No. 5, The Sick Rose Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano 1:51
06 Love Songs: No. 1, Barter Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 3:15
07 Love Songs: No. 2, Faults Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 1:01
08 Love Songs: No. 3, Child, Child Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 2:11
09 Love Songs: No. 4, After Love Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 2:28
10 Love Songs: No. 5, Gifts Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 1:18
11 Love Songs: No. 6, Dusk in War Time Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 2:42
12 Love Songs: No. 7, Joy Carl Vollrath Emalie Savoy, soprano; Timothy Phillips, clarinet; Nathan Brandwein, piano 2:10
13 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 1, Variations on the Moon Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 4:27
14 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 2, Early Spring Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:25
15 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 3, Beside the Lake Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:21
16 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 4, Upon Looking Up Into the Sky Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:42
17 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 5, Night Is Coming Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:26
18 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 6, Walk at Twilight Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:44
19 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 7, I Walk in the Woods Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:22
20 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 8, I'll Lay Me Down Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:55
21 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 9, The Mountain Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 4:44
22 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 10, The Coming of a Summer Rainstorm Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:49
23 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 11, Farmtown Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 0:42
24 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 12, His and Ours Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 1:06
25 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 13, On Leaving a Place in the Woods Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 6:34
26 Variations in Verse (Rural Poems): No. 14, Oh the Sky Is Deep Tonight Carl Vollrath Aliana de la Guardia, mezzo-soprano; Yoko Hagino, piano; Philipp Stäudlin, saxophone 2:33

Carl Vollrath composer

William Blake text (tracks 1 – 5)
Sara Teasdale text (tracks 6 – 12)
John Gracen Brown text (tracks 13 – 26)

FIVE SONGS ON THE TEXT OF WILLIAM BLAKE
Recorded August 31, November 16-18, 2020 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Engineer & Co-producer John Weston
Co-producer Lucas Paquette
Assistant Engineer Jacob Steingart

LOVE SONGS
Recorded March 21, 2011 at DRL Media, Cavaquinho Music, DiNicola Inc., in New York NY
Session Engineer Don DiNicola

VARIATIONS IN VERSE – RURAL POEMS
Recorded September 4-5, November 16-18, 2020 at Futura Productions in Roslindale MA
Session Engineer & Co-producer John Weston
Co-producer Lucas Paquette
Assistant Engineer Jacob Steingart

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Košulič
Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown
Audio Director, Editing & Mixing (tracks 1-5, 13-26), Mastering Lucas Paquette
Addtl. Editing (tracks 1-5, 13-26) Jacob Steingart

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Carl Vollrath

Composer

Born in New York City to German parents, Carl Vollrath attended Newton High School. He received a B.A. from Stetson University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Florida State University. Vollrath studied composition with Ernst von Dohnanyi Carlisle Floyd, and John Boda. He served with the West Point Military Band at West Point NY from 1953 to 1956 and was a music consultant in Miami FL from 1956 to 1958. He joined the Troy University (AL) faculty in 1965.

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Yoko Hagino

Pianist

Yoko Hagino was born and raised in Japan, where she began her piano studies at the age of 4. As a child, she performed her own compositions, which took her to Europe and the United States, including performances as a concert soloist with the Czech Symphony, the University of Southern California Symphony, Kyoto City Symphony, and Ensemble Orchestra Kanazawa. Hagino has appeared as a soloist with Osaka Century Orchestra, UMass Boston Chamber Orchestra, Key West Symphony Orchestra, White Rabbit Sinfonietta, and has also performed various piano recitals ranging from the music of Bach to contemporary repertoire. Hagino is a prize winner of the Steinway Society Piano Competition, the First International Chamber Music Competition, the All-Japan Selective Competition of the International Mozart Competition, and Chamber Music Competition of Japan.

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Aliana de la Guardia

Soprano

The Arts Fuse lauds de la Guardia’s sound as “lovely, natural” and “as clear and powerful as grain alcohol.” As an active soprano vocalist, Aliana de la Guardia has garnered acclaim for her “dazzling flights of virtuosity” (Gramophone) in “vocally fearless” performances that are “fizzing with theatrical commitment” (The Boston Globe). A graduate of the Boston Conservatory and consummate interpreter of new classical concert repertoire, she has enjoyed collaborations with many ensembles featuring today’s most eminent composers including “Scenes from a Novel” and “Kafka Fragments” with violinist Gabriela Diaz by György Kurtág, “Aspen Suite” by Salvatore Sciarrino,“Nenia: the Death of Orpheus” by Harrison Birtwistle conducted by Jeffery Means, and the world premiere of “Earth Songs” by Ronald Perrera with New England Philharmonic, among others.

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Notes

Vollrath began falling in love with the works of William Blake (1757-1827) in the early 1960s when he first began reading his poetry at Florida State University. Believing that Blake encompassed an egalitarianism and humanity that was more than a century ahead of his time, the composer began setting the poetry to music. He learned that Blake’s contemporaries did not take him seriously when he said all men are equal regardless of skin color. Unbeknownst to Vollrath at the time, Blake was beginning to be recognized more fully in the mid-1960s. In these works, Vollrath explores the extent to which Blake was ahead of his time, and focuses on the notion that Blake was not understood by his peers during his lifetime.

Regarding his setting of “The Fly” Vollrath says “Make the most of life while you’re living. Live and enjoy life as much as you can.” Through “The Sick Rose,” Vollrath recognizes the experiences of misery through the COVID-19 pandemic and other hardships we face. Through this piece, he depicts us all as leaves in the wind, blown about.

Vollrath was first drawn to the works of Sara Teasdale upon an invitation to visit a Tennessee college. When a vocalist there requested that the composer set Teasdale’s poetry to music, Vollrath received his first foray into the repertoire. Since this time, he feels fortunate to have been able to have Timothy Phillips record it.

Before teaching at Troy University, Vollrath received a book of poetry from poet John Gracen Brown. Not knowing much about poetry at the time, he remained uninspired. Later, however, during his professorship, he received another book from Brown, and Vollrath suddenly fell in love with the verse.

One summer, the composer sat down to write a new song daily, setting music for voice and saxophone to one of Brown’s poems. Finding that Brown’s poetry evokes a love of nature and rural countryside, Vollrath had quickly associated it with the saxophone he heard on Prairie Home Companion. He continued writing, inspired daily by Brown’s verse, eventually completing 50 songs.

Vollrath wants listeners to be transported to the natural locales, enjoying the moon, the landscape, the earth. He says, “What a gorgeous thing a mountain is; we need to appreciate the beauty.” A Netflix show called God sums up some of these notions for the composer, providing inspiration in the visages he portrays. A Buddhist monk in the show notes that: birds do not fly, they are carried. Fish do not swim, they float. The earth is not a resource, it’s our source. In this, Vollrath states, “We are all dependent on each other. If we destroy the earth we destroy ourselves.”