Dark Days: Karl Larson plays Scott Wollschleger

Thursday, May 6, 2021. 8:00 pm
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Dark Days: Karl Larson plays Scott Wollschleger

Thursday, May 6, 2021. 8:00 pm

Pianist Karl​ ​Larson makes his solo debut at Roulette, presenting a concert celebrating the release of Dark Days, a new album of solo piano music by Scott Wollschleger released on New Focus Recordings on April 23, 2021. Featuring the same ten pieces as the album, Larson’s performance highlights the most intimate works from Wollschleger’s expansive solo piano repertoire, including the world premiere of Brontal No. 11: I-80 (2021), a brief snapshot of a dream of driving west.

This performance and album are the results of years of close collaboration and friendship between the pianist and composer. Larson has immersed himself in Wollschleger’s music for years, developing what the composer calls “a definitive interpretation of my work, with an acutely sensitive approach to color and voicing.” Dark Days is the latest and most substantial of their collaborative efforts, which have also included such notable works as American Dream for Bearthoven (Larson’s trio) and Meditation on Dust for solo piano and string orchestra, which was premiered at Roulette with the String Orchestra of Brooklyn in 2015.

Wollschleger’s music explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition, explored through his particular connection with the piano. He says, “My piano is my personal diary. Each piece is a world of its own and this concert is a collection of short stories that arch into my larger aesthetic and personal story.” In his liner notes for Dark Days, Larson elaborates on these themes, writing, “for me, the collective whole of Dark Days expresses sensitivity, intimacy, and peace. The image Dark Days conjures in my mind’s eye is not one of hopelessness, but that specific, contradictory warmth we feel during the darkest days of the year, glowing embers in the fireplace, the muted silence of falling snow.”

Dark Days is available New Focus Recordings on April 23, 2021. Learn more and order.

Brooklyn-based pianist Karl Larson is a specialist in the music of our time. Consistently presenting adventurous programs, Larson regularly performs a wide variety of newly commissioned works alongside selections from the modern canon. Recent performances of note include appearances at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, EMPAC, the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, and the Teatro General San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He frequently performs with his trio, Bearthoven, and has also recently appeared with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, Yarn/Wird, and the American Composers Orchestra. Larson has released recordings on Cantaloupe Music, New Amsterdam Records, New Focus Recordings, and GALTTA Media. He holds a DMA in Contemporary Music Performance from Bowling Green State University.

Scott Wollschleger’s music has been highly praised for its arresting timbres and conceptual originality. Wollschleger (b. 1980) “has become a formidable, individual presence” (The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross) in the contemporary musical landscape. His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form and has been described as “apocalyptic,” “distinctive and magnetic,” possessing a “hushed, cryptic beauty,” (The New Yorker, Alex Ross) and as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times). Wollschleger’s concert works can be heard across the US and the world, most recently featured at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, England, and the Bang on a Can Virtual Marathon 2020. His debut album, Soft Aberration, was released on New Focus Recordings in 2017 and was named a Notable Recording of 2017 in The New Yorker. His most recent album, American Dream, written for Bearthoven, was released by Cantaloupe Music in 2019. His next album, Dark Days, will be released by New Focus Recordings on April 23, 2021.

Photo: Greg Manis