Neil Rolnick: Lockdown Fantasies

Other Minds is pleased to present Lockdown Fantasies, the new album from composer Neil Rolnick. The album features two new works for piano and electronics written for and performed by Geoffrey Burleson and Kathleen Supové. Both works are dense and thoughtful with an emotional edge, much like the oeuvre that Rolnick has built up over his 40 year career as a composer.

The album opens with its titular piece, "Lockdown Fantasies," performed by Geoffrey Burleson. The piece was written in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns as the composer was traversing an empty Manhattan by bicycle and a new romantic relationship. Rolnick intentionally avoids the fear, isolation, and loss typical of COVID-centric work in favor of a hopefulness and wonder in the strangeness of the situation. There are moments of entanglement and anxiety, but the openness and hope dominates. In each of the piece’s five movements, the composer introduces a theme that is looped and brought back in subsequent movements.

The emotional album closer is "Journey’s End," reflecting on the battle with cancer of the composer’s wife of 45 years, Wendy. The piece is commissioned and performed by Kathleen Supové who, as a personal friend of the couple, witnessed Wendy’s heroic fight with the disease and Rolnick’s role in caring for her throughout her illness. The piece opens with unaccompanied piano and as it goes on, electronic elements slowly ebb and flow, occasionally obscuring the acoustic sound. As the electronics overtake the piano, the performer loses control over the sound. This delicate balance between the acoustic and electronic is a touching and emotional tribute.

Rolnick excels at this emotionally vulnerable approach to composition. Lockdown Fantasies, while documenting a specific tumultuous period of the composer’s life, is a deeply personal expression of universal experiences.

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