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Avner Dorman

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Piccolo Concerto (2001)
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
2001
Duration
15 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Piccolo
Alternate Orchestration
piano or 2 pianos


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Programme Note
Avner Dorman Piccolo Concerto (2001)
Composer’s Note:

Originally, Lior Eitan commissioned me to write a piece for piccolo and harp. While I was composing the first movement, I felt that the music was more fitting to be a concerto. When Lior came over and read the first movement, we both agreed this was the case. As in traditional concertos, Piccolo Concerto has three movements — fast, slow, fast. The musical material is drawn from diverse musical genres and styles: Baroque and Classical music, Ethnic music, Jazz, and Popular music.

Baroque and Classical — The first movement is based on the classical sonata form. Throughout the piece, there are several fugues and canons. I also use many sequential patterns and other clichés of 18th century music in this piece.

Ethnic — to my ears, the Piccolo’s bottom octave sounds very similar to Middle Eastern shepherd’s flutes. In the second movement, especially, I emphasize this similarity by using characteristic modes of Middle-Eastern music, as well as common styles of ornamentation from the region. Another reference to my home region is the imitation of the sounds of desert winds and of the Mediterranean Sea in the second part of the movement.

Jazz and Popular music — From the very first notes of the concerto, the juxtaposition of a steady beat in the bass with syncopations in the upper parts serves as a key compositional technique in this piece. Frequently, the classical and ethnic motives are accompanied by short repetitive patterns. In vast sections of the piece, the soloist’s part is supposed to sound as if it is an improvisation. In certain sections of the piece, these repetitive rhythms together with the Basso-Continuo lines emulate modern drum-machines.

— Avner Dorman



  • Ensemble
    Metropolis Ensemble
    Soloist(s)
    Avi, Avital (mandolin), Mindy Kaufman (piccolo), Eliran Avni (piano), Arnaud Sussmann (violin), Eric Nowlin (viola), Michal Korman (cello), Aya Hamada (piano)
    Conductor
    Andrew Cyr
    Naxos:
Performances
Date
Title
  • 25 OCT 2013
    Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
    American Symphony Orchestra
    Fanya Wyrick-Flax, piccolo; Leon Botstein, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26 October - Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
  • 30 APR 2010
    Argentina
    Organizacion Musical Sudamericana
    Stephen Gunzenhauser, conductor
  • 22 FEB 2010
    Symphony Space, New York, NY
    Tara Helen O'Connor, piccolo; Margaret Kampmeier, piano
  • 11 OCT 2007
    Concerto in A US Premiere
    Mandolin Concerto
    Concerto Grosso US Premiere
    Piccolo Concerto New York Premiere
    Angel Orensantz Center, New York
    Metropolis Ensemble
    Mindy Kaufman, piccolo; Eliran Avni, piano; Avi Avital, mandolin; Andrew Cyr, conductor
  • 22 NOV 2005
    Italy
    Rostov State Musical Theatre Orchestra
    Maurizio Dones, conductor

Reviews
One would be forgiven if they assumed going in that a Piccolo Concerto would be a piercing prospect and too limited a palette to work satisfactorily. I’m still not convinced that this is a genre that requires a plethora of options, but soloist Mindy Kaufman’s rendering of the Dorman concerto for the instrument reveals striking versatility. The piece itself combines jazzy rhythms, neo-Baroque signatures, and resonances of the pipes and whistles found in a variety of folk music traditions.
Christian Carey, sequenza21.com,12/15/2010
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,5/11/2010
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,2/23/2010
As CT.com 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 Grosse 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, classicstoday.com,2/10/2010
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,2/7/2010
Outstanding for its freshness and spontaneity was the Concerto for Piccolo (Lior Eitan) by the laureates' junior, Avner Dorman, 26. Unlike most of the other works, it comfortingly abstained from representing any severe Weltanschauung. Instead, it unabashedly expressed joie de vivre and a disarming natural smile. It is the kind of music that deserves even more encouragement in the future.
Ury Eppstein, Jerusalem Post,,4/22/2001
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