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International premiere for Rorem's Cello Concerto

As he approaches his 80th birthday (October 23, 2003), Ned Rorem is composing at the peak of his powers.  One of the highlights of his birthday year is transatlantic debut of his new Cello Concerto, composed for noted soloist David Geringas.  The Cello Concerto is unveiled in Kansas City on March 28-30 with the Kansas City Symphony under Michael Stern; it then travels to The Hague on June 6, where Geringas will perform with the Residentie Orchestra, led by Anne Manson.

Born in Lithuania, Geringas won the Gold Medal at the Tchaikowsky Competition in 1970, and has since enjoyed a flourishing career as a soloist.  He has  commissioned concertos from a number of distinguished Eastern European composers, including Sofia Gubaidulina, Erki-Sven Tüür, Peteris Vasks, and Lepo Sumera, but until now, no Americans.  Says Rorem, “When David Geringas came to visit in early 2000 I was pleased by his wish for a new piece.  Since I already had a Violin Concerto, and a Double Concerto for violin and cello, a Cello Concerto would round off a perfect program.”  Characteristically for Rorem, rather than following the traditional three-movement concerto form, Cello Concerto takes the form of a multi-movement suite, with each movement given a somewhat literal descriptive title. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>

Thus, the opening movement, Curtain Raise, is followed by the musically palindromic There and Back.  Competitive Chaos pits the solo cello against a solo violin in a movement marked ‘Quick and Brutal.’ The fifth movement, A Single Tone, A Dozen Implications, is an exercise in Klangfarbenmelodie: “While the soloist sustains a single expressionless ‘E’, the orchestra imposes, separately, a sequence of twelve colors in varied intensities.”  The concerto closes with a haunting eighth movement, Adrift: “Against a weaving ostinato for harp & strings, the cello sings a long long strain which gradually fades to nothing.”

Further welcome news for Rorem fans comes in the form of a new Naxos CD (8.559128), featuring the London-based chamber ensemble Fibonacci Sequence in a trio of chamber works: Bright Music, for flute, two violins, cello, and piano;  End of Summer, for violin, clarinet and piano; and Book of Hours, for flute and harp.

Photo: Jack Weinhold

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