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Avner Dorman

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Concerto in A (1995)
G Schirmer Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
13 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Avner Dorman Concerto in A (1995)

Avner Dorman composed his Concerto in A at the age of 19, while he was serving in the Israeli Army. The piece was first performed by Dmitry Shteinberg and the IDF chamber orchestra conducted by Menachem Nevenhoiz in 1995. In this early piece it is possible to identify some of the compositional trends of Dorman’s later works, mainly the combination of Neo-Classicism with Rock elements; Middle-Eastern rhythms in the fast movements and transparent lyricism in the slow one; Humor and Joie de Vivre, on the one hand, and tormented moments on the other:

“My initial inspiration for the concerto came when I heard a recording of Bach’s keyboard concerto in A major on the radio (performed by piano and strings). I found the bright sound of the Violins doubling the Piano’s top line very exciting, and then and there I improvised the opening tutti of my Concerto in A. This was the first time I wrote a Neo-Classical piece. I found the challenge of doing something new while keeping the transparency and directness of the classical style very appealing. I got even more ecstatic about the piece when I realized that using the traditional harmonic vocabulary enables me to effortlessly integrate Jazz, Pop, and Rock elements into the piece. Even though the piece is dedicated to Vivaldi, one can also find in it allusions to Nina Simone, The Police, The Cure, Stravinsky, and of course, to Bach. Throughout the piece the soloist borrows patterns that are idiomatic to the string instruments of the orchestra.”

The piece is in three movements: fast-slow-fast. The first and third movements use the tutti-solo convention of the Baroque era. The second is a song without words.

Movements of the Concerto:

I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Presto

  • Ensemble
    Metropolis Ensemble
    Avi, Avital (mandolin), Mindy Kaufman (piccolo), Eliran Avni (piano), Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Eric Nowlin (viola), Michal Korman (cello), Aya Hamada (piano)
    Andrew Cyr
Written when he was just 20 years of age, Dorman’s Piano Concerto in A Major is a splashy technicolor work that embraces virtuosic showmanship, combining a prevailingly Neo-romantic aesthetic with occasional post-minimal ostinati. Pianist Eliran Avni captures the concerto’s spirit, performing its often dizzyingly paced passagework and cadenzas with pizzazz. While no one will mistake it for the mature voice found in the Mandolin Concerto, the youthful exuberance of the Piano Concerto is frequently charming.
Christian Carey,,15/12/2010
Avner Dorman, a 35-year-old Israeli composer who completed his studies at the Juilliard School in 2006 and now lives in Los Angeles, writes with an omnivorous eclecticism that makes his music both accessible and impossible to pigeonhole. Themes with a modal, Middle Eastern accent often weave through sharp-edged, modernist harmonies; and the influences of jazz, pop and Indian music often crop up as well. Consistent hallmarks are the vigor of his writing and the virtuosity it demands of its interpreters. Baroque music has been another fascination of Mr. Dorman's: an early prelude, included on a 2006 Naxos recording of his piano works, was based on a Bach figure, and in the four concertos here, composed between 1995 and 2006, Mr. Dorman lets his neo-Baroquery run wild. The works are concise three-movement forms in the standard configuration, and though Mr. Dorman has not entirely jettisoned the rhythmic complexities that drive his other works, he has made them subsidiary to the chugging rhythms of the Baroque style. Lest that suggest that these concertos are lightweight pastiches, listen to the finale of the Piccolo Concerto (2001), a propulsive, harmonically acidic Presto that has the soloist, Mindy Kaufman, leaping perilously through her instrument's range. In the Mandolin Concerto (2006), the colorful solo line, played with stunning agility by Avi Avital, draws on all the usual mandolin techniques -- chordal tremolandos, singing melodies -- and adds bent pitches, high-velocity scampering (against sliding violin figures) and dynamic nuance. The Piano Concerto (1995) owes an obvious debt to Bach, but its solo line is restless: it makes its way from Bachian clarity to 19th-century storminess and contemporary brashness before returning to its neo-Baroque starting point. Eliran Avni is the eloquent soloist here, and Andrew Cyr's Metropolis Ensemble, a New York group, provides crisp, energetic support throughout the disc.
Allan Kozinn, New York Times,11/05/2010
Israeli composer Avner Dorman was trained at the Juilliard School and lives in Los Angeles, where he does some work on movie soundtracks. So Naxos is promoting him in its American Classics series. Be happy for it, because the four concertos assembled here are some of the most appealing new music heard in a long time. The Mandolin Concerto uses a lot of Middle Eastern motifs. The Piccolo Concerto could claim neoclassical Stravinsky as a godfather. The Concerto Grosso sounds like a minimalist take on Corelli. And the Piano Concerto in A hilariously uses a simple scale as a theme to poke fun at showy virtuosity. For all their eclecticism, these pieces reveal a strong common profile - with tragic ferocity lurking under the sparkling surfaces. The performances are stellar, the sound superb.
Lawson Taitte, The Dallas Morning News,23/02/2010
As readers probably already know, I'm not generally a fan of concertos for silly solo instruments, whether these be percussion (Dorman has two of those), tuba (except for Vaughan Williams), contrabassoon (Aho-yecch!), double bass, or what have you. That said, I have to confess that Dorman's Mandolin and Piccolo concertos are terrific. The former finds more timbral variety in this recalcitrant instrument than you would ever believe possible, and it seems to have been conceived with its potential in mind so as to turn any limitations to maximum expressive advantage. Soloist Avi Avital wails away at his mandolin as if his life depended on it. The same observations apply to the Piccolo Concerto; sure, it's sprightly (it has to be), but soloist Mindy Kaufman has a wonderful tone, an amazing facility with flutter-tonguing, and Dorman's sensitive use of such modernistic devices (or "ethnic," depending on your frame reference) as pitch-bending imbues the piece with real poetry. The Concerto Grosso takes Handel and Vivaldi as inspirations, but the slow-fast-slow form is quite unconventional, and the mixture of minimalist techniques, modernist tone clusters, and frankly melodic passages is exquisitely balanced for maximum variety and color. Dorman was only 19 when he wrote his Piano Concerto; it's the most conventional work on the disc, clearly neo-Baroque, but no less charming for that in soloist Eliran Avni's capable hands. The pianissimo conclusion reveals a composer of real sensitivity and wit. None of these pieces lasts longer than seventeen minutes, all bear repetition, and the Metropolis Ensemble under Andrew Cyr sounds absolutely terrific no matter what Dorman asks them to do. This is really good stuff, a genuine discovery, beautifully played and excellently engineered. It will make you feel good about the future of contemporary Classical music.
David Hurwitz,,10/02/2010
The music of Israeli composer Avner Dorman is so vivacious and so technically proficient that it's hard to resist on a superficial level. All it needs to make it fly is some original musical ideas. Instead, the four concertos on this disc - intriguingly scored ones for mandolin, piccolo and piano, as well as a concerto grosso - traffic almost exclusively in allusion and pastiche. Bach is a constant presence, especially in the Piano Concerto, but Dorman also leaps happily around among jazz, pop, Romanticism and Middle Eastern strains. The result is music you already know, shuffled and recombined into an appealingly glib package. Most rewarding is the Mandolin Concerto, which fuses Baroque and Middle Eastern gestures in unusual ways, and which ends with a surprising flourish.
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle,07/02/2010
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