About this Recording
8.579001 - DORMAN: Piano Sonatas 1-3 / Moments Musicaux / Azerbaijani Dance
English  German 

Avner Dorman (b.1975)
Piano Music


Born in Israel in 1975, the Israeli-American composer Avner Dorman has quickly risen to become one of Israel's most widely performed composers. At the age of 25 he became the youngest composer to win Israel's prestigious Prime Minister's Award. He has since received numerous awards from the American Society of Composers and Publishers, the Asian Composers' League, ACUM (the Israeli performing rights society), and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, among others.

Dorman's works have been commissioned and performed by Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Quartet, Tanglewood Festival Choir, New Fromm Players, the Young Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Percadu Ensemble, Rostov State Musical Theatre Orchestra, Bat Dor Dance Company, Peridance Ensemble, Israel Camerata, Seraphim Singers, Tel-Aviv Soloists, and Musica Nova Ensemble. Avner Dorman's music is exclusively published by G. Schirmer.

Avner Dorman holds a doctorate from the Juilliard School of Music where he studied with John Corigliano. Prior to that, his primary composition teacher was the Georgian-Israeli composer Josef Bardanashvili. Dorman served as composer-in-residence with the Israel Camerata from 2001 to 2003.

Prelude No. 1 (1992), an expressive love song, is the first piece included in Dorman's opus. He composed the piece at the age of 17 before his formal training as a composer started. At the time he was also a concert pianist and wrote the piece for his own recitals. In Prelude No. 1, Dorman transforms the opening prelude from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier into a mellow jazz melody by adding two dissonant notes to the continuous arpeggiated chords.

Piano Sonata No. 1 'Classical' (1998) exudes a youthful joie de vivre and marks the first composition that Dorman wrote as a student of Josef Bardanashvili. The piece is 'neo-classical' in the sense that it pays homage to classical music as well as to classic rock, classic Broadway and other 20th-century classics. The second movement initially strikes the listener as a pop ballad, but a closer study reveals a structure and development inspired by Beethoven's late piano sonatas. The final movement is comprised of a theme and set of humoristic and virtuosic variations.

Einav Yarden gave the première of Piano Sonata No. 2 (2001) at the 2001 Aviv Competitions in Israel, where she earned a first prize for performance of an Israeli composition. Although the form of each movement is fairly traditional, the content includes jazz and folk-music elements. In the first movement Dorman envisions a pianist sitting very late at night in a club, trying to play a melody from memory. The drama of the movement is built around the pianist's struggle with his own memory – every time he thinks he has found the melody, his mind strays. This movement focuses on the gap between what one actually remembers and the feelings associated with those memories. The second movement contains more bravura, and at times, imitates the style of legendary jazz pianist Art Tatum. The left hand repeats a short pattern, while the right hand plays increasingly faster and more complex patterns.

While studying together at Juilliard, Eliran Avni asked Dorman to write a set of short piano pieces for him. Dorman named the pieces Moments Musicaux (2003), both as a tribute to Schubert, and to encourage the performer to focus on the musical moment rather than the technical one. Dorman constructs both Moments using rigorous mathematical models, yet each piece projects different emotions. The polytonal arpeggios in Moment No. 1 create a sad, depressed mood, and Dorman's use of dissonance at extreme registers imitates bell-like sounds. Moment No. 2 explores the interactions between a short cyclical rhythm (reminiscent of the Salsa) and a lyrical second theme. The first measure presents the rhythmic motive – Dorman creatively divides a 4/4 measure into 4+3+2+3+4 sixteenth notes (semiquavers). The second theme is lyrical and alludes to the style of Broadway show tunes. Moments Musicaux marks the first piano piece that Dorman composed in America as a student of John Corigliano.

Dramatically, Dance Suite (2005) depicts the journey through sound of a blind oud player. (The oud is a traditional Middle-Eastern instrument that resembles a lute or a guitar.) The piece opens with a passionate prelude that symbolizes the musician's inner conflict. Oud and Kanun, the movement that follows, is based on a traditional Arabic maqam, and incorporates several dances. The movement is constructed like a taqsim, an improvisatory piece that is based on a single maqam. During this movement sounds from the contemporary world begin to penetrate the classical Arabic music. The oud player, fascinated by these new sounds, begins to follow them instinctively in his music. The final movement, Techno, begins when, unexpectedly, the serene atmosphere disappears. The sounds from the contemporary world lead the piece into an exuberant finale. Dance Suite was commissioned by Soheil Nasseri and received its première at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.

Azerbaijani Dance (2005) is inspired by an Azerbaijani folk melody. Dorman restructures the traditional melody according to metric principles of Turkish and Central Asian music, draws on harmonies and textures characteristic of contemporary jazz, and weaves the different elements with superb counterpoint. The combination is mesmerizing. The piece explores colours of the piano that allude to folk instruments, such as hand-bells, flutes, and hand-drums. Azerbaijani Dance is styled as a short, dramatic virtuoso piece for piano, following the tradition of Liszt, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and others. Dorman composed the piece for Eliran Avni, for this Naxos release.

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