“The three standing ovations that Pratt received immediately after Rounds, a Grammy-nominated piece for piano and strings, reinforced the consistently enthusiastic affirmative response the 2022 work has received in more than 30 performances by Pratt. Pratt commissioned Montgomery, along with five other composers, to each write a work based on selected prompts from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. Rounds was one of six compositions recorded for the Stillpoint album, which was released by New Amsterdam Records.
With guest conductor Teddy Abrams, the Louisville Orchestra’s music director, at the helm, Pratt and the accompanying strings demonstrated perfectly the comprehensive affinity for musical expression and structure found in Eliot’s poetic verses. Montgomery was prompted by several verses in the second part of Burnt Norton, which in plainest terms frames time as a cycle. Montgomery is a master of compositional structure, showing that patterns emerge especially because they require disruption to do so, even as we crave a constant point at which every option, pathway and possibility converge. She also draws upon the concepts of fractals, for weaving a sound tapestry with nested rondo sequences that instinctively lead to multiscale patterns.
Pratt led the way with exceptional lucid playing that rewarded and enriched the listener’s experience, where one could pinpoint the contrasts and differentiations in rhythmic and tonal expressions within these cycles of musical phrases. He arrived at the cadenza, which he has varied and improvised with each performance by about 10%-20%, as he explained in an earlier interview (note: compare the live performance experience to the recording on the Stillpoint album). Pratt conveyed a truly approachable sense of graceful exploration, acknowledging that in each iterative performance, he instinctively has found a fresh ideal location for a musical pattern or even individual notes and short phrases. Montgomery gave Pratt enough freedom to subvert just enough the structural symmetries she has created for the work. Rounds will never sound predictable, prescribed or routinely mechanical. Pratt achieves the work’s alluring effect, with preeminent skill.”Online Version