The Naxos
Composer of the Month

In July, Naxos released its recording of Roy Harris’s Symphonies 3 and 4, part of a complete cycle of the composer’s symphonies.  

Roy HARRIS: Symphony No. 3 and No. 4, “Folk Song Symphony”
Colorado Symphony and Chorus, Marin Alsop

CD of the Month

Toru TAKEMITSU: A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden, etc.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop

Roy Harris: Symphonies 3 and 4
Podcast Feed

John Tavener: Lament for Jerusalem
Podcast Feed

Classical Music Spotlight presents a special interview with Maestro Leonard Slatkin
Podcast Feed

William Bolcom's Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Podcast Feed

Friday, June 09, 2006
Avner Dorman's World: Romantic Pluralism on the Piano

Avner Dorman is a composer on a roll. In the wake of a successful performance of his Second String Quartet in New York and the premiere of his percussion concerto Spices, Perfumes, Toxins by the Israel Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta in April, Dorman signed an exclusive publishing deal with G. Schirmer. Now, he has a new CD of solo piano music, performed by Eliran Avni, on Naxos.

As you might expect from someone who has experienced such recent success, Dorman, who also recently has completed his doctoral studies at Juilliard, sees a bright future for his craft as part of a multi-faceted musical culture that values good music from all sorts of genres.

“There’s really a place for composers to write music. There’s really opportunity now . . . a curiosity about new music is returning. You can hear someone say they like Jeff Buckley and John Corigliano. There’s more access to listening to music (than ever before).”

For Dorman, a native of Israel, the overwhelming array of music available today—available primarily through the internet—has not only created an open-minded audience but has also provided a way for composers to find new and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Dorman’s piano music reflects his own personal take on musical pluralism. The melody for “Azerbaijani Dance,” written specifically for the Naxos recording, is based on a melody that Dorman had heard on a home video clip from an Iranian web site. Avner had no particular personal connection to the music but just found it “gorgeous . . . (it) filled me with joy.”

In “Azerbaijani Dance,” Dorman mines the internet for musical material outside of the classical music tradition and geographically removed from his New York locale, but for his Dance Suite: Sonata No. 3, he draws on his own past, incorporating everything from classical Arabic music to techno as a way to deal with his ga’aguim, a Hebrew term he translates as, roughly, “longing for home.”

“It’s all music I grew up listening to . . . when I wrote those pieces, I needed to deal with things I missed about home.”

Despite openly acknowledging his musical reference points, Dorman eschews the self-conscious use of obvious borrowings. Less like a postmodern bricoleur, Dorman works within the standard forms of classical music and aligns himself with the Russian school of early twentieth-century classical composers. Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Rachmaninov created vastly different personal styles but, for Dorman, what links them is their use of compositional devices and musical influences to serve dramatic ends.

“The goal of everything is dramatic, is to express something. Bach was an eclectic composer—but we don’t think that way today. Counterpoint is a dramatic device . . . the fugue has a dramatic, expressive role. Eventually, if the music is good enough, it will all sound like one thing.”

The adherence to the classical tradition allows the solo piano music to fit in nicely with more conventional fare heard in the recital hall. In fact, “Azerbaijani Dance” is the odd piece out on the new CD, which includes three multi-movement sonatas, two Moments Musicaux, and a Prelude.

Samples of Dorman’s piano music are available at US concert-goers can hear his Violin Sonata on November 2nd as part of the 2006-2007 Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center season and in March 2007, when the Nashville Symphony will give the American premiere of his Variations without a Theme.