CD Review: “ONE – chamber music of Kurt Rohde” – Kathodik

by Filippo Focosi

Kurt Rohde is a young, eclectic, and exuberant composer, who on this CD by Innova, shows a personality that may yet still develop, but is already defined and confident. This confidence is primarily communicated in two concertos on the CD; one for violin and small ensemble, the other for two violas (it is worth remembering Rohde, who is a violist and plays as a co-soloist here). These two three-movement works are in the Classical form of allegro-andante-allegro, but the internal development is far from obvious, based on the polyphonic mold of Ligeti (Ligeti in the 1980’s was influenced by the music from Sub-Sahara Africa), and are rich in micro-motives that are intertwined and overlapping, chasing each other wildly, on the edge of derailing but held together by vibrant polyrhythmic patterns and dynamic power. The longer ONE is next, a piece fitting into the American-repertoire of works for speaking-pianist where the pianist, in addition to playing, reads a text. In this experimental genre, Rohde gives a story about life divided into a number of pieces, some of which are gestural and lively, others more rarified and exotic, which all flow together smoothly and are, like the text, individually consistent. The CD ends with Four Remixes, a quite imaginative re-workings of famous pop songs (Elton John, The Beatles, B-52s, Joni Mitchell), usually unrecognizable in the music played by piano trio by this writer, but a valuable melodic source for the wild wanderings, perhaps a little cerebral, of this American composer.

Read the full review here.