Friday, August 10, 2012

CCC 041 - Paul Moravec

American composer Paul Moravec has been called a "new tonalist," which makes him a perfect candidate for the Consonant Classical Challenge. Moravec composes in a tonal language, but it certainly isn't the same as the late- or even the post-romanticists.

Moravec holds the distinction of winning a Pulitzer Prize for his one of his works, the Tempest Fantasy. Inspired by Shakespeare's play, each movement paints a musical portrait of one of the drama's characters.  In addition to being an award-winning composition, it also serves as an excellent introduction to the composer's style.

Moravec's catalog includes three concertos (for clarinet, violin, and cello respectively), as well as two operas. He hasn't written much for full orchestra, but his chamber orchestra and string orchestra works are quite fine. His 2005 composition "Morph" provides ample evidence of that.

The harmonies Moravec uses aren't terribly complex, but they're often more than simple triads. Moravec's use of dissonance helps give his music a sense of forward motion, pulling the listener along to the next section of the music. "Autumn Song" for flute and piano features an elegiac melody that (to my ears) is the essence of Moravec's compositional language.

Moravec's style can be thought of as a logical extension of the post-romantic tradition. While the tonal traditions of the past form the foundation for his work, they certainly don't contain it. Moravec uses them to create new and original compositions that very much speak to contemporary audiences. In my opinion, Paul Moravec is a composer that should be programmed more often. It can only further his music's appeal.

Recommended Recordings 

Paul Moravec: The Time Gallery; Protean Fantasy; Ariel Fanstasy

Paul Moravec: Tempest Fantasy; Mood Swings; B.A.S.S. Variations; Scherzo

Paul Moravec: Cool Fire; Chamber Symphony; Autumn Song

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