Lera Auerbach’s Celloquy: Seriously Good Music

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 10

Lera Auerbach’s music has been compared to that of Shostakovich, and with good reason. She remains committed to a fresh use of tonality, without denying herself the full resources of modern technique. The 24 Preludes for cello and piano follow the traditional journey through all the major and minor keys. There are passionate adagios, a sardonic reference to the Magic Flute Overture (Prelude No. 14), waltzes, scherzos, laments, and giddy allegros. The scoring for cello and piano is clever and handled with a keen ear for color and timbre.

Best of all, the performances are sensational. Auerbach is a superb pianist, and she handles her own frequently virtuosic writing with aplomb. Ani Aznavoorian plays a mean cello, both here and in the Cello Sonata. As Auerbach points out in her notes, the two instruments are equal partners in this latter work, a gripping emotional outpouring that concludes with a lament marked “with extreme intensity”. The preceding third movement is a wild toccata that recalls similar moments in Shostakovich’s Eighth quartet and Eighth symphony. Auerbach also makes evocative use of microtones both here and occasionally in the preludes as well. It’s an interesting addition to her expressive arsenal, particularly when they appear in a tonal context.

The program concludes with a brief Postlude for cello and piano, actually a “deconstruction” of the twelfth Prelude. Grim and eerie, it closes the program on a note of mysterious unease. The sonics are gorgeous, with perfect balances and a very realistic perspective. Fans of good contemporary chamber music will want to own this; it repays repeated listening and reveals Auerbach as a true force in today’s music.

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Recording Details:

Album Title: CELLOQUY
Reference Recording: No reference recording

    24 Preludes for cello and piano; Cello Sonata; Postlude for cello and piano

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