Kevin Volans: Orchestral Works Recording

 Kevin Volans: Orchestral Works Recording
© Nick Miller
Kevin Volans: Orchestral Works, a recording of three major Kevin Volans orchestral works, has been released on the RTÉ lyric fm label as part of the critically acclaimed Composers of Ireland series. The Composers of Ireland initiative has been key in promoting the work of Irish composers at home and abroad. Although originally from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Kevin Volans calls Ireland home and has held Irish citizenship since 1994.

Volans’ musical style, is varied, in more recent years he has turned his attention mainly to writing orchestral works. In the mid seventies Volans’ work was associated with the New Simplicity, in the 1980’s Volans worked on a series of pieces based on African compositional techniques. Since then his work has explored various aspects of musical composition and styles however has remained essentially modernist.

Kevin Volans: Orchestral Works was recorded in the National Concert Hall Dublin and includes three works:

Trio Concerto (2005) was recorded live in October 2007, it features the Storioni Trio with Alan Buribayev conducting. Of it Volans says, “In this piece I decided to raise the bar a little on virtuoso orchestral music. It is a very difficult piece…demanding great stamina from the players. (I) used music I wrote in the 1970’s as a starting point for style.”

Symphony: Daar kom die Alibama (2010) was recorded in June 2012, conducted by Gavin Maloney. Volans says, “The Symphony refers obliquely to an African song” “(The piece) is not based in any way on the original song…it became for me a mediation on the sea and the role of ships and their cargoes in our history…so the piece hovers in a state of unfulfilled anticipation from beginning to end.”

Concerto for Piano and Winds (1995, but revised in 2012) was recorded in June 2012, it features Isabelle O’Connell playing Piano and Gavin Maloney conducting. Volans uses two African compositional characteristics throughout, he says, “I decided to treat the orchestra like a vast panpipe ensemble, whose makeup is anti-hierarchic…Secondly, the piece is constructed around the ratio of 4:3.” “It is festive, carefree and even joyous in mood… (it) is all about the earth, and to some extent about walking rhythms.” The revisions were made after hearing Isabelle O’Connell wanted to play the piece, the ending was extended and the solo part made playable for average sized hands.

The disc was recorded by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and is now available for purchase.

Scores available to view online.

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