Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Alla Elana Cohen, Jupiter Duo, with Sebastian Baverstam

After listening to, liking and reviewing Alla Elana Cohen's Red Lilies of Bells, Golden Lilies of Bells on these pages (see November 9, 2017 article here), I was ready for more. Happily I did not have to wait long, for there is a new album of Cohen works entitled Jupiter Duo (Ravello 7978). It is an engaging sampling of Ms. Cohen's very expressive music for cello and piano. Sebastian Baverstam has a great deal of presence on cello. Ms. Cohen flames and sparkles brightly on piano.

We have a chance to hear seven multi-part compositions on the program. "Book of Prayers" appears twice in two different segments. Then there are "Sephardic Romancero," "Three Film Noir Pieces," "Third Vioil," "Spiral Staircases," and "Querying the Silence."

Expressionism differs from Romanticism like a third-generation offspring resembles her grandmother. Related yet NOT the same. If you factor in a folk expressionism like one heards in world musics, African music especially, the chronology may be backwards? Not so, however in the Classical lineage, where mostly we go from  R to E.

All that to introduce the idea that these works and their vital performances are more "Expressionistic" than Romantic. There is much in the way of passion, and a harmonic bouquet of brilliant edginess. It is way beyond some overt sentimentality and very Modern in its more diffuse feeling.

The most important thing is that Alla Elana Cohen sounds Russian, then Jewish, and then totally herself.  This is Ms. Cohen's own play of passion that she and Mr. Baverstam exude heartily and concentrically in their readings.

Now that is what you might expect. It is music that I find increasingly relevant to my ears. I love the music and I love how expressively it is performed by the duo. It is very beautiful and I would say too that it is very original. Cohen sneaks into my hearing and I find her important. That is, important to me. You listen and see if you feel the same. It is very much worth your ear-time! Highly recommended.

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