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Auerbach's Sonata No 2 for Violin and Piano, Op 63, is subtitled 'September 11' [listen -- track 13, 11:07-12:18] , and was written by Lera Auerbach in reaction to the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. It had a world première in Carnegie Hall (October 2003).

'Like the Phoenix, who dies in order to be born, this piece was born from death' said the composer, who took the same flight (New York-Los Angeles) as that involved in the terrorist attack a day earlier. Just so -- whether audiences recognize a connection or not, discerning listeners will detect a passionate 'voice' that deserves to be ranked beside great composers of the recent past.

Here is a one-movement (14'39") work of white hot imaginative rage; and while the debt to Shostakovitch is clear, Auerbach's work has a power and distinctiveness which is strikingly structured and unmistakably personal.

Following its première The New York Times concluded -- 'A brash violin line and crashing piano figures are direct and almost picturesque. They would create an equally gripping sound-scape even if the work had no title or historical associations.'

Lera Auerbach appears to be inordinately gifted -- a multitasker 'par-excellence' -- she has also published six volumes of poetry and prose in Russian.

Jazz in name, though hardly in nature, Shostakovitch's captivating three-movement Jazz Suite No 1 for violin and piano (1934) evokes Austro-Hungarian impressions more than those of New Orleans. The version here is a new transcription (by Michael Gluzman, father of Vadim) of the Suite for Jazz Orchestra No 1.

There are touches of Kreisler-style gemütlichkeit here and though Yoffe is inclined to be a tad heavy, Gluzman brings a disarming sense of grace to the opening Waltz, nicely-judged playfulness to the Polka and overt sensuality in the concluding Foxtrot [listen -- track 6, 0:44-1:37].

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Copyright © 28 December 2006 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand

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