Comprised entirely of works by female composers, “HERS” vibrantly celebrates the vision, strength, resilience, and vital contributions of the female sex throughout history. Through musical storytelling, the Carr-Petrova Duo leads its listeners through the inspirations, battles, and incredible accomplishments of ten fearless women – from the 12th century’s Hildegard Von Bingen to today’s Beyoncé – inviting audiences to share in the centuries of heartbreak, struggles, and triumphs that have defined the female experience.

Carr-Petrova Duo

Described as “ravishing” (Strad), “enlightened” (BBC), “explosive” (Virginia Gazette), and “irresistibly elegant” (Diario de Leon), violist Molly Carr and pianist Anna Petrova have compiled a remarkable list of accolades in recognition of their fiery musical expression, refined artistry, and relentless entrepreneurial dedication to social initiatives. Both acclaimed international soloists, as individuals they have won top prizes in several international competitions, and have been featured in such world-renowned venues as Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, and Lincoln Center. Their performances have been broadcast on CNN, PBS, NPR’s “Performance Today,” WQXR, and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Carr and Petrova began playing together during their years at the Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music, and have since performed together across Europe, the Middle East and North America, in venues ranging from Lincoln Center to soup kitchens in New Orleans and schools in Gaza. Collectively, the Duo holds faculty positions at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Louisville.

Tracks 7 and 10 recorded at Greenfield Hall, Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY on March 14, 2022
Recording engineer: Kevin Bourassa

All remaining tracks recorded at Comstock Hall, University of Louisville, KY on April 29, 2023
Recording engineer: Adam Copelin

Mixed and mastered by Leonie Wagner and Thomas Boessl

Produced by Leonie Wagner and Thomas Boessl

Cover art by Lee Tokeley, with kind permission

Graphic design by Nadja von Massow / ECN Music

Executive producer: Elaine Crouch / ECN Music

album notes

The story of 'HERS'

With this album, we aim to highlight and celebrate the vision, strength, resilience, and vital contributions of the many women musicians who have come before us and who continue to lead our field forward today. Their lives and musical paths are all so different but each one inspires us to follow our dreams as 21st-century musicians.

The idea of HERS was born during the height of the COVID Pandemic. When lockdowns began, Molly (with her husband and their pooch) decided to escape New York City and drive to Louisville, Kentucky to live with Anna. We were amongst the few lucky musicians able to spend the lockdown together. We had no concerts, no clarity on our future, and no place to be… Everything in the foreseeable future was canceled. But we had unlimited time, our imaginations, a viola, and Anna’s baby grand piano. The unstructured time during the pandemic gave us the space to dream big and create music and projects without a specific “career” purpose. We found ourselves playing and enjoying music for music’s sake – amidst, of course, an appropriate amount of pandemic Netflix binge nights and sampling of Trader Joe’s ice cream flavors. In this creative space, our musical appetites were unleashed, and we started to hunger for not just what was “standard” or “accepted” as part of the classical repertoire, but what excited us – regardless of genre or style. We wanted to transcribe and commission music that felt right for us and lit us up, with no other purpose in sight: whether it would be played on a concert stage, or in Anna’s living room, it didn’t matter…

After a few months of this carefree brainstorming, and countless hours of musical exploration and discovery, we realized that most of the music we had selected to play was in fact written by… women! And not just any women – women with fascinating and powerful stories. It seemed like a natural step to combine it all into a single program and subsequently an album. And thus, HERS, was born.  

Rebecca Clarke bears a special significance in our story: she holds the title of one of the first professional female violists in history. During her lifetime, she premiered numerous new works for the viola and helped the instrument become recognized as a worthy and equally expressive sister to the violin. Her Sonata for Viola and Piano was actually the first piece we ever played together, and we included it on our debut album Novel Voices. Again, it is thanks in part to Rebecca that we, Molly and Anna, can follow our dreams, concertize worldwide, and exist in the music industry as a Viola-Piano Duo – and so we knew that our album of female composers would not be complete without one of her works. For this album we chose Morpheus

Rebecca initially faced doubts about using her real name to publish and premiere her compositions due to mixed reactions to her music. However, after adopting the pseudonym “Anthony Trent,” her compositions (interestingly…) seemed to garner greater acclaim; listing “Mr. Trent” as the composer of Morpheus led to enthusiastic reviews of its premiere, rightfully acknowledging its brilliance. 

Named after the Greek god Morpheus, the god of sleep and dreams, the piece keeps you in a dreamy flow state from its first note to its last. Rebecca weaves a beautiful tapestry of her characteristically impressionistic colors, which like dreams, sway in and out of warmer, more passionate or emotionally invested moments – to us, signifying the varying dream states of traveling through the subconscious. During our living room jam sessions, we often read this piece at night, when the light was dim and our imaginations were starting to drift into dream-land. 

Around the same time, the duo decided to dole out homework assignments to each other: we each had to find composers and music we were interested in performing. When we returned to Anna’s living room for the big reveal, we were surprised to discover that we had both gravitated toward the music and inspiring life of Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard was an ordained nun, canonized saint by the Catholic Church, a polymath, a composer, a writer, a mystic, a philosopher, a poet, and a musician, all of which were incredibly hard to be as a woman in her time. She was a true Renaissance Woman in the Middle Ages. Her chants were hypnotizing for us, and we were certain we wanted to play her music but knew that it would need a modern vessel to successfully live in the viola/piano duo repertoire. We turned to the brilliant Vivian Fung to ask if she might write something for us based on Hildegard’s work. Vivian graciously agreed but also let us know that she had in fact already composed a piece based on Hildegard – her Prayer for orchestra, commissioned by the NAC in Ottawa. The work had been premiered through a socially-distanced recording of each orchestra member, pasted into a massive video collage. When Vivian offered to transcribe the piece for viola and piano, we readily accepted!

Knowing that the piece originally lived in Vivian’s imagination as an orchestral piece has presented a fun added challenge for us: we’ve enjoyed mimicking the full orchestra sonorities, timings, and timbres as we have brought this to life for the first time as a viola/piano version. Both in its new form as well as its original orchestral version, the piece is beautifully moving and highly personal.

Clara Schumann has been an inspiration to musicians throughout the centuries, and remains a model for our own careers as women in the 21st century. As a soon-to-be first-time mom, Molly in particular now is drawing inspiration from this super-woman who concertized all across Europe as one of the leading virtuosos of her time (in the age of the horse and buggy), premiered many of Brahms’ and Robert Schumann’s works, while acting as one of their chief compositional consultants. She did this while raising eight children, caring for her ailing husband and their household, and composing in her free time!

We absolutely love Clara’s Three Romances. Each Romance flows from both instruments with the most natural, almost inevitable, silken phrasing. We find ourselves weaving, exploring, singing, crying, rejoicing together through each Romance. During our initial album brainstorming, we were thrilled to discover that these pieces had already been transcribed for viola and piano by Kalinowsky, and have been enjoying performing them as often as we can!

Our album of female composers would not have been complete without the special voice of Molly’s childhood best friend, Michelle Ross. During the pandemic so many seismic shifts occurred globally – some were negative, but some were surprisingly positive. One such positive shift was Michelle’s focus in her musical life from that of a performing violinist exclusively to that of a composer. Since that moment, Michelle has had her compositions premiered at such renowned festivals as Tanglewood and Lucerne, and has been commissioned and recorded by some of the most beloved artists and ensembles of our time. We are proud to say that this shift for Michelle happened with… Where Things Weigh Nothing At All, which she wrote for us in Fall of 2020. 

In her own words:

“This piece begins and ends in a dream state. The viola and piano weave in and out of awareness of each other, and along with the listener, are traveling between the interior or exterior worlds. This is represented in improvisational gestures, expressive rubato and conversational elements between the two voices. After the introduction, there is a moment which signifies our emergence from memory and from this anchor, the music spins out into extremely luscious, harmonically bright and rich conversational themes between the duo. Momentum builds towards two peaks, from which we finally recede back towards the anchor of “time,” which instead of feeling concrete, has transformed into a memory. 

The title “Where Things Weigh Nothing At All” is a line from my favorite Milan Kundera novel – The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. This is simply one of many allusions that weave in and out of the subconscious of this piece, such as a fragment of a Gregorian chant that hung above my piano where I composed the work. 

Implicit meaning guided my compositional process: instead of attempting to transcribe the Gregorian Chant, I allowed it to swirl along with my other ideas and imprint itself into this piece however it unfolded. The beginning of the score indicates to the performers: “walking together, unknowingly,” as if they are singing the same fragments of this chant across different realms, different times – perhaps in a similar way that a composer attempts to sing a melody they aren’t sure they know where it comes from… 

After the final double bar, another quote from The Book of Laughter and Forgetting emerges:

The young man looks into her eyes, he listens to her and then tells her what she calls remembering is really something entirely different: Under a spell, she watches her forgetting.

Tamina nods in agreement.

Into space? But what is it that renders her look so heavy?

It is not heavy with memories, the young man explains, but heavy with remorse.  Tamina will never forgive herself for forgetting.

“So what should I do?” asks Tamina.

“Forget your forgetting,” says the young man.

Tamina smiles bitterly: “Tell me how you manage that.”

“Haven’t you ever felt like going away?”

“Yes,” admits Tamina.  “I want terribly to go away.  But where?”

“Some place where things are as light as the breeze.  Where things have lost their weight.  Where there’s no remorse.”

“Yes,” says Tamina dreamily.  “Where things weigh nothing at all.”

And as in a tale, as in a dream (of course it’s a tale! of course it’s a dream!), Tamina comes out from behind the bar where she has spent several years of her life and leaves the cafe with the young man.  A red sports car is parked at the curb.  The young man sits down at the wheel and invites Tamina to get in beside him.

When Anna first discovered Amy Beach’s Romance for Violin and Piano, she immediately called Molly and told her, “We have to play this piece, even if you have to learn to play the violin!” Thankfully, a fellow violist named Molly Wise had already gifted the viola world with an eloquent transcription, so Molly Carr did not have to learn to play the violin in the end. The lyrical lines of the Romance which start quietly and ever so tenderly, later soar and roar into the most passionate culmination – which make our hearts pump in our chests each time we play the work. It is works like this one that make us grateful upon each and every performance that we chose to be musicians.

A flexible powerhouse singer, songwriter, producer, and dancer, Beyoncé is a multifaceted global superstar by any measure. She has over 71 million listeners monthly and has won more awards than any other artist in music history. Amongst those accolades she also wins “One of the Carr-Petrova Duo’s Favorite Artists.” During the summer of 2020, we hopped in our cars and embarked on a two-month long road trip across the country. We visited most of the major national parks, hiked, camped, and had a fabulous time communing with the bears and staying far away from humans. During our trip, it became a daily tradition to roll down the windows and sing at the top of our lungs to all of our favorite pop, Disney, hip-hop, opera, you-name-it-we-sang-it songs. It was then that we asked ourselves… “If we are having the time of our lives every time we croon with our highly untrained voices to Beyoncé, what would happen if we could sing with our highly trained musical instruments? Why don’t we play these tunes in our concerts?” Right then and there, with the squirrels and coyotes as our witnesses, we swore we would find a way to bring those tunes onto classical concert stages. We knew that there would be no better person to take on this task than Henrique Eisenmann, our longtime friend and fellow faculty member in Juilliard. He is the only male exception that we allowed into the composer list of HERS, but his piece is still very pertinent to this story as it is inspired by none other than the Queen B herself, Beyoncé. With his jazz and Brazilian background, Henrique weaved Beyonce’s Halo into an original, fantasy-like piece, which has held its own on classical music stages as well as anywhere else it has been played so far. The pop icon’s song is but one of the many exciting elements in the music, flowing through Brazilian rhythms, rock and roll, hoppin’ jazz vibes, and much more.

Andrea Casarrubios’ Magnitude speaks of the power of the individual to effect change in our world. We have lovingly begun to nickname this piece “our anthem for the ordinary people,” because it tells the story of a few women fearlessly following their dreams and subsequently creating ripples of change of remarkable magnitude. 

Let us explain:

In 2018, the duo undertook an epic project in which we traveled around the world to visit and perform in refugee camps for a year. We were stirred to start this monumental project in an effort to learn and better understand the refugee crisis. Every time we turned on the news, every time we opened social media, every time we read the paper, every time we had a conversation with peers, mentors, colleagues, and friends – the theme was the same: “What can we do? The situation is heartbreakingly hopeless.”

And so, as two ordinary people, we grabbed our instruments, a composer and two filmmakers and took off for the camps. Our goals were two-fold: 1) we wanted to meet those behind the word “refugee” – to see the faces, hear the stories, understand first-hand for ourselves the situation, and bring back what we learned into our everyday lives as artists in America. 2) We wanted to gather information on ways ordinary people can get involved and help make small changes. To learn more about this project visit the Novel Voices page on our website which includes an interactive map of the US with links to refugee organizations in each state. 

During our travels into the camps, we visited the Deheisheh Palestinian Refugee Camp in the West Bank. While there, we had the opportunity to hear a concert of a group called “The Daughters of Jerusalem” – an ensemble of Palestinian women who study at the Edward Said National Conservatory. After the spectacular performance, we met with the director of the group who described for us how these young girls are completely changing the music scene in the Middle East by simply pursuing their dreams of being professional musicians. They are creating a musical genre that the director told us “has never existed before them… to have a group of women singing together, to have a group of women playing instruments together on stage has never happened in the tradition of Palestinian music before. In fact, a mere ten years ago, it was unheard of to witness a Palestinian girl walking down the street with an instrument on her back. Today, because of these girls – it is common practice.” These girls and their journey inspire us beyond measure, and we are honored to be able to tell their story.

In the foreword of Magnitude, Andrea writes, “I couldn’t help but consider the magnitude—the tremendous impact [The Daughters of Jerusalem] will continue to make, and how their courage in music can have such important repercussions in generations to come.” And on the cover of the score, she has a single drop of water falling into a pool with the resulting ripples filling the page – a visual representation of the impact even the actions of an “ordinary person” can have in changing our world.

In closing, the stories of all these brave mothers, sisters, and daughters on this album and our own stories are inextricably intertwined. We, in fact, owe our lives in music to the women of HERS and play each piece with gratitude for their fight to overcome, express, and create in a system and a world that often wished to silence them. With this album, we pay homage to these women, whose actions have created a butterfly effect of epic magnitude; it is because of their choices through the centuries that we can follow our dreams today as two female artists and continue to pave the way for those who come after us.

– Molly & Anna

Molly Carr (viola), Anna Petrova (piano) EmpowHERS Records (2024) Receive the CD by post Read more

About the mUsic

As a team comprised of two curious, goofy, fun-loving women whose combined experiences span the worlds of performing, teaching, and non-profit/institutional founding and​ administration – we decided we wanted to give ourselves a little push to begin digging into the knowledge and experiences we have floating around in our collective brain, acquired through our years of successfully straddling multiple worlds. Through developing this blog, we hope to continue to discover and define our own ideas and experiences and then ultimately share these (hopefully helpful!) discoveries and thoughts – as well as some tips, tricks, and possibly occasional random musings – with… YOU!

So far, we’ve divided up our posts into four general categories of… “viola stuff,” “piano stuff,” “duo stuff,” and “dual musings,” and invite you to take a peek or a lengthy gander into each of these different perspectives. We hope you encounter little knacks and tidbits that might help you also continue to discover, define, and share your thoughts and experiences as well!

This program celebrates the women who, despite facing discrimination on both personal and institutional levels, nevertheless forged their own artistic paths. From the medieval era to the present, these composers not only often strayed outside of the narrow bounds of society’s expectations, but also produced music that testifies to their creativity, experience, and brilliance. As the performers describe, it captures “the vision, strength, resilience, and vital contributions of women throughout history.”

Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Florence Price (1887-1953) almost immediately faced obstacles to her musical training; the city’s white instructors refused to work with her, leaving her mother in charge of her artistic development. Throughout her life, she was plagued by such discrimination; in a letter to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky (conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the time), she writes explicitly of her “two handicaps…sex and race.” Despite this, she became a nationally acclaimed composer. Her songs were championed by famed contralto Marian Anderson, while her Symphony in E minor was premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—the first orchestral work by an African American woman to be performed by a major American orchestra. Many of her works languished in manuscript form, forgotten for over half a century. After being rediscovered in a dilapidated home (Price’s former summer house) in 2009, they are happily now gaining appreciation through publication and performance. Elfentanz (“Dance of the Elves”) is one of several short pieces originally written for violin and piano. It opens with a spritely theme made effervescent by pervasive offbeat rhythms, capturing the whimsy of the title. A lushly romantic middle section follows, with soaring melodies and yearning harmonies. The impish music tiptoes back in, however, and the work closes with a playful pizzicato wink.

Clara Schumann (1819-1896) was hailed in her lifetime as a virtuoso performer, described by her masculine contemporaries (including her husband, Robert Schumann, as well as Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt) as the “priestess” of the piano. She also composed, often featuring her own works on recitals. Despite her well-recognized prowess, Schumann often confessed her self-doubt in her diary about her abilities to both compose and perform. In 1839, for instance, she lamented:

I once believed that I had creative talent, but I have given up this idea; a woman must not wish to compose—there never was one able to do it. Am I intended to be the one? It would be arrogant to believe that.

Despite her hesitations, the year of 1853 nevertheless was a prolific one compositionally. Written in July of that year, the Three Romances for Violin and Piano, op. 22 (transcribed here for viola) were dedicated to the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim; the pair performed the work several times together, including once for the reigning monarch of Hanover, King George V. From the very opening of the first movement (Andante molto), we hear the dialogue between the instruments. It opens with a series of questions, and a sense of longing—in both melody and harmony—is pervasive. In the Allegretto that follows, Schumann plays with quicksilver changes of mode; the opening theme in G minor, which Schumann directs performers to play with “delicate expression,” is contrasted with a lighthearted section in the parallel major. Listen, too, for such shifts in the final moments of the movement. The indication of the finale—Leidenschaftlich schnell (“passionately quick”)—captures something of its character, as a long, pathos-filled melody unspools smoothly over bubbling piano arpeggios.

Writing of Prayer, composer Vivian Fung (b. 1975) comments on the personal nature of this piece, and speaks to her experience as a mother and composer:

Prayer is, in essence, an aberration, for under no other circumstance in the past (or probably in the future) have I worn my heart on my sleeve as transparently as I have with this piece. In times of crisis and peril, we have but the reliance on faith – from the profound faith in humanity, faith in love, and faith that we will persevere and get through this with dignity, to the mundane faith that I would complete the piece within the extraordinary conditions that faced me, with a young child at home 24/7, a bronchial infection, and a very tight timeline (ultimately, a matter of days) to complete the piece…

In both melody and meaning, the work pays homage to another remarkable woman: Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). In today’s parlance, we might describe her as a multi-hyphenate: she was an abbess responsible for her Benedictine community, a visionary who recorded and shared her prophetic insights, a prolific writer in genres from medicine to hagiography to poetry, and a composer with an original, distinctive voice. That she – a woman – accomplished all of this in the twelfth century, within the confines of the deeply patriarchal church makes her all the more extraordinary. Prayer takes inspiration from one of Hildegard’s antiphons, O Pastor animarum (“O Shepherd of our souls”). The chant is characteristic of the composer’s style, with monophonic melodies emphasizing the meaning of the poetic text through rhapsodic melismas; liberare, (“to free”), for instance, is stretched out over many notes. Fung adopts (and adapts) the opening, rising contour of Hildegard’s melody, piecing it together slowly over rippling accompaniment, before allowing the viola to triumphantly intone it more fully.

The origin of Romance, by American composer and pianist Amy Beach (1867-1944) is uniquely tied to the celebration of women artists; it was premiered during the Women’s Musical Congress, part of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Performed by Beach herself on piano and Maud Powell on violin, the concert was one of many devoted exclusively to music by women. This recital must have been particularly sweet for Beach, whose performance career was constrained due to her husband’s wishes; citing his professional status, he requested that she limit herself to only annual recitals serving as charitable fundraisers, and she thus turned primarily to composition as her main artistic outlet. To be honored in this way—as a female composer and performer—must have been satisfying indeed. The work was apparently well received, with an encore performance immediately and vociferously requested by the audience. Their enthusiasm is understandable; the graceful melodies of Romance soar from the lowest to the highest ranges of the instruments, with the parts intertwining and supporting each other equally. The late-nineteenth-century, lushly Romantic harmonic vocabulary and effusive dynamics make the work sing with passion throughout, only finding true closure in the final moments as both instruments ascend and disappear into the ether.

Though Beyoncé (b. 1981) likely needs no introduction, it is nevertheless worth reviewing her astounding career as one of the best-selling and decorated artists of the modern era. At the age of eight, she was already performing semi-professionally with the group that would later evolve into Destiny’s Child; by twenty, she was a household name, and released her first solo album soon after. As her star power grew with each album, so too did her confidence in herself and her artistry; more recent work experiments with different musical genres, explores new themes (most prominently, perhaps, Beyoncé’s own feminist outlook), and integrates divergent forms. Halo comes from her third studio album I Am…Sasha Fierce, which (as the title suggests) is divided into two halves. The double album aimed to capture the self-described bipartite nature of the artist’s identity: the “real” Beyoncé versus her performative alter-ego. “Halo” belongs to the former section, with the lyrics describing how—with the right person—she can let her guard down and trust. Musically, the song is vocally demanding, traversing a wide range, and featuring virtuosic ornaments and melismas. This transcription by Henrique Eisenmann (b. 1986) turns “Halo” into an instrumental rhapsody; the composer transforms the original melody with surprising harmonies, fragments and recomposes motives to create something entirely new, and celebrates the technical capabilities of the two instruments while never losing the feeling of Beyoncé’s original power ballad.

Magnitude by Andrea Casarrubios (b. 1988) was commissioned in 2021 by the Carr-Petrova Duo, and emerged from their Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project, during which the pair traveled across the world performing at refugee camps and engaging with residents in workshops. While in Jerusalem, they witnessed a performance by the “Daughters of Jerusalem,” an ensemble of Palestinian women who study at the Edward Said National Conservatory. The director of the conservatory, Suheil Khoury, described how these musicians are challenging the male-dominated tradition of music making, creating new music that is unique to the ensemble in form and style, and bearing witness to the members’ experiences. Magnitude pays homage to their effect and significance as artists; as Casarrubios writes of the work’s inspiration, “I couldn’t help but consider the magnitude—the tremendous impact they will continue to make, and how their courage in music can have such important repercussions in generations to come.” Throughout the work, the instruments seem to explore this type of influence; motivic fragments first imagined by the piano, for instance, blossom in the viola, becoming more expansive melodies. The accompaniment shifts throughout, shifting between gently syncopated chords to a resolute pedal tone to rippling sixteenth notes to grandiose arpeggios, yet the momentum never ceases. These disparate parts—the initial melody as well as various accompanimental figures—come together as the piece climaxes; musical materials are reinterpreted and recombined into something greater than the sum of their parts. After this profusion of sound, tranquility descends as the two instruments echo each other once more, their dialogue fading into the distance.

In program notes for a concert given in 1977, composer Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979) seized the opportunity to vehemently and proudly claim the Sonata for Viola and Piano as her own, writing “I do indeed exist…and…my Viola Sonata is my own unaided work!” While it might seem strange to assure audiences of the originality and authorship of the work (let alone prove the composer’s very existence), the origin story of the sonata explains Clarke’s clarification. The work was composed for a competition in 1919 sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the American patroness of the arts, in which it received second place (coming runner-up to Ernest Bloch’s Suite for Viola and Piano). The judging was conducted anonymously, with the composers’ names revealed only after the winners had been determined. Coolidge, who cast the tie-breaking vote, later recounted to Clarke the surprise of the jury, saying “you should have seen their faces when they saw it was by a woman!” The shock (and ensuing doubt) reverberated; a number of articles claimed that Clarke had not, in fact, written the sonata, that she had been helped by other composers, and even that the name was a pseudonym for her competitor, Bloch. In an interview recorded on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday, Clarke recalled, “I had an extreme feeling of unreality as if I really didn’t exist…getting a clipping to say that there wasn’t such a person as me was a rather strange experience.”

Yet the Sonata is proof not only of Clarke’s existence, but also of her compositional prowess. The first movement, “Impetuoso,” opens with a declamatory fanfare in the viola. Like Clarke herself, the instrument seems to assert its presence, proclaiming its soloistic power in a brief but impassioned cadenza. With the reentrance of the piano, we are cast more deeply into Clarke’s sound world; a fervent, rising melody is accompanied by modal harmonies and undulating dynamics. The tempestuous music abates, leaving a sinuous, chromatic melody in its wake. This more dreamy, mysterious middle section, replete with floating harmonies, is perhaps the most audible reference to Claude Debussy, whom Clarke cited as a major influence in another interview given late in her life. At moments, the opening material reemerges, hinting at its eventual, powerful return. The “Vivace” that follows opens with an exuberant, dance-like theme in the piano, complemented by the muted viola, which offers colorful accompaniment in the form of strummed pizzicato and whistling harmonics. A shimmering section, awash with atmospheric arpeggiation in the piano and a lyrical, supple viola melody, offers contrast. The sonata concludes with an extensive “Adagio” that, epic-like, seems to move from episode to episode seamlessly. A lonely theme begins our journey; oscillating around one central pitch (G), it wanders freely but always returns home. The viola joins, adopting the meandering melody but supported by rich harmonies in the piano. And while occasional ardent profusions burst forth, this theme is woven throughout, reemerging with a variety of accompaniments; in one of its guises (accompanied by buzzing, sul ponticello tremolos), it slowly gains energy, eventually transforming into the heroic melodic themes of the first movement. Old and new musical material are intertwined in this rhapsodic coda, and the work comes to a virtuosic close.

– Anya B. Wilkening

Molly Carr (viola), Anna Petrova (piano) EmpowHERS Records (2024) Receive the CD by post Read more

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Molly Carr and Anna Petrova would like to keep you up-to-date with their latest projects, concerts and releases.