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An Excellent Introduction

Chamber music by
Steven R Gerber -
heard by

'... impressive quality.'

Steven R Gerber: Piano Trio; Duo; Elegy; Notturno. © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Steven Gerber is now sixty, born in Washington DC and currently a resident in New York City from where he makes frequent journeys to Russia, a country in which he is perhaps the most frequently performed American composer.

His most recent large-scale orchestral work, Music in Dark Times, is the result of a commission from conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy who directed its first performances with the San Francisco Symphony in March this year. Catalogues already list recordings of his concertos for violin, cello, viola and clarinet, other multiple concertante pieces and his Symphony No 1. It is therefore fascinating now to have the Naxos disc devoted to a cross section of his string chamber music.

Gerber's earliest work dates from 1966 when he was eighteen years old, the year he wrote a group of French Songs and two Toccatas for piano. The following years saw the publication of several more instrumental pieces, among which were a Fantasy for solo violin (1967), a lively Duo for violin and cello (1968) and between them a Piano Trio (1968) which is a most engaging youthful work, vigorously demanding in places, the opening of which is arresting in its transparency and delay of the piano entry.

Listen -- Gerber: Allegro con spirito (Piano Trio)
(track 17, 0:00-1:30) © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

All three pieces are on this disc, and serve as an excellent introduction to the work of a composer who is a fine craftsman and communicator. The remaining pieces span the years between 1986 and 2001, serving as a captivating retrospective. There are two other pieces for piano trio, the most recent of which, Three Folksong Transformations, was written in 2001 and uses a process of rebuilding motifs from the adopted source material similar to that in the three pieces comprising Gershwiniana for three violins.

Notturno for piano trio is a powerful movement that keeps up its pressure throughout its duration.

Listen -- Gerber: Notturno
(track 10, 1:12-2:25) © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

The recording also includes Three Pieces for two violins and Fantasy for solo violin, both written in 1997, Three Songs Without Words (1986) for solo violin, and an Elegy for solo viola on the name of Shostakovich written in 1991 for the Russian Elena Ozol. The recordings were all made in New York in October 2002 and are of impressive quality.

Copyright © 12 October 2009 Patric Standford,
Wakefield UK








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