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Reviews Cello discs from Cedille and Navona; great American string quartets » The Scene Live highlights – page VII

Auerbach ‘Celloquy’ 24 Preludes for Cello and Piano. Cello Sonata. Postlude Ani Aznavoorian vc Lera Auerbach pf Cedille F CDR90000 137 (75’ • DDD)

Auerbach as composer and pianist for Chicago cellist The potent voice of composer Lera Auerbach is in full force on ‘Celloquy’, featuring cellist Ani Aznavoorian and Auerbach as pianist. In three works, the Russian-born composer employs diverse styles with a distinctive brand of succinct and penetrating expressivity.

Auerbach pays homage to past masters in the opening 24 Preludes, which rivets attention through a varied juxtaposition of poetic musings and technical colorations. The cello plays on the bridge, executes mysterious and ironic slides, and enters into dramatic soundscapes with the equally impetuous piano. A mocking parody of Mozart’s overture to The Magic Flute shows up at one point, as do veiled or overt references to Bach, Bartók, Offenbach and pop musicians. It’s a work of gregarious splendour, played to the fierce hilt by Aznavoorian and Auerbach, who also bring chilling intensity at the disc’s end to the Postlude, which transforms the Prelude No 12 from the opening cycle through a panoply of disembodied sonorities.

Standing proudly between those works is the Cello Sonata, whose four movements reveal Auerbach’s compositional acumen in more extended forms. As in the preludes, the composer builds pithy statements from seemingly simple materials. Extended techniques, including microtones, are used that come across as essential components in the music’s emotional trajectory.

In everything, Aznavoorian combines lustrous lyricism with a dramatic panache that illuminates the extremes in Auerbach’s music. The composer makes trenchant contributions anchoring her creations at the keyboard. Donald Rosenberg

Lee ‘Six Concertos’ Flauta Carioca a . …bisbigliando… b . Violin Concerto c .

talks to... Ovidiu Marinescu The cellist on making the worldpremiere recordings of eight cello pieces for his CD ‘Moto perpetuo’ How did you choose what to record? I approached the label with the concept of recording new music for cello, or for cello in partnership with other instruments. In conjunction with the recording was to be a set of live performances – the highlight will be a Carnegie Hall concert on October 15. So we put a call out for composers, and we received various submissions. We chose music that we liked, and that we believed was good. This presented an initial challenge though – how were we going to present a unified disc of music that is so varied? But I think the average listener today is very divergent, and so this disc has a little bit for everybody. It introduces sweet and sour, hot and cold, in such an organic way that listeners might be introduced to new music and find they like it.

All the composers are American, bar one… Andrew March is from the UK and he wrote Three Pieces for solo cello particularly for me. My Bach Cello Suites recording inspired him to write music for cello with me in mind and he sent a movement to the label. I was so moved that when this project came about we invited Andrew to submit his works as well, and he wrote two other pieces to form this set of three wonderful movements.

What does this CD say about the cello? The cello is a maverick. It can demonstrate beauty of sound and virtuosity but also works in chamber music. This was never intended to be a show-off ‘here is me’ type of project. Maybe that’s one of its strengths – that it takes the listener on a journey of different colours.

Do you have a favourite work? I want to go to Arthur Gottschalk’s Sonata for cello and piano, In memoriam. I sensed from the beginning that each movement has a powerful message. I had to ask myself, what did Art feel when he wrote this? It’s what’s beyond the musical text, what’s between the notes, that brings the piece to life.

Piano Concerto, ‘Mozartiana’ d . Persephone and the Four Seasons e . Eurydice f a Sarah Brady fl e Jennifer Slowik ob c Irina Muresanu vn f Rafael Popper-Keizer vc d Robert Levin pf b Ina Zdorovetchi hp Boston Modern Orchestra Project / Gil Rose BMOP/sound F b 1025 (135’ • DDD)

Boston’s BMOP champions local composer’s concertos BMOP celebrates the 67th birthday of Thomas Oboe Lee, a composer of great renown in Boston and Cambridge, with six concertos written between 1995 and 2010.

These are concertante works in a 21st-century take on the late-18th-century vein, with an absorbing fluency of narrative expression and a profusion of pleasing melody – with lots of great solo parts for the instruments in the orchestra, too. Each of the concertos has a story, and each was written for friends.

The star is the Violin Concerto, written for Bucharest-born Irina Muresanu. Lee writes that he ‘researched Brahms, Sibelius, Mozart, Prokofiev’ and it shows – until he starts getting it right by getting it wrong at the most outlandish places, and the pyrotechnics and attitude that Muresanu must employ to maintain control are breathtaking. Mozartiana gramophone.co.uk

GRAMOPHONE JULY 2013 I