New Music for Cello

Lera Auerbach, Jay Greenberg, Serra Hwang, Huang Ruo

SERRA HWANG, Korean drums

World Premiere Recordings



“Greenberg's Sonata…has an immediate appeal; it is fluently served by Arnone and Giles and in my view unequivocally deserves a recognized place in the cello and piano repertory.”
Howard Smith, Music & Vision [January 2013]
“With an impressive resume as both a performer and editor… Anthony Arnone’s world-premiere recordings of cello music in various configurations, written between 2003 and 2008, yields persuasive results. This is an impressive program, featuring world-class performances by Arnone… The performances by Arnone and his collaborators are terrifically intense and convincing, despite being recorded in three different venues.”
Laurence Vittes, Strings [January 2013]
“a cellist with rich tonal resources, fine subtlety and a keen sense of phrasing”
Gramophone [2012]
The composition Beckoning was composed as part of a series of compositions that were inspired by the folk music of South Korea, my native country. For the past few years, I have attempted to evoke or incorporate a sense of “Korean-ness” in my work. In addition to the obvious choice of Korean traditional instruments and their timbres, significantly I decided to use rhythm as the core structural foundation. In most Korean folk music, rhythm defines the form of the music, such as in sanjo (solo instrumental suite) or p’ungmul (percussion music and dance) performances, where the rhythmic pattern or cycle employed is also the name of the movement. This rhythm or “groove” is the unifying
element that provides energy, stability and unity to the composition.

When I heard the sound of the cello for the first time, I couldn’t help but think of the Mongolian Horse-head fiddle. To me, cello is one of the Western instruments that shares a close connection to the Eastern instrumental sound-world I grew up with. The Norwegian painter Edvard Munch used to say: “I never paint what I see, but what I saw.” Although the Four Fragments has no connection or influence from Munch’s painting and style, it shares the same concept with Munch from a different sense and approach: “I compose what I heard, instead of what I hear.” The Four Fragments are four reflections from my memory, from my living and traveling through time and space. They are not about any specific event, stage or emotion, and are not clearly divided into four separate movements. They should be performed in succession without pause. In this continuous journey, all four fragments are closely related, although each of them has its own form, character and life.

The Sonata for Solo Cello was presented to me by Ms. Auerbach in the spring of 2009 for this recording project. I had enjoyed Ms. Auerbach’s music and was thrilled to have the opportunity to record this challenging and beautiful work. The piece is in six movements, but in a way is connected by several motives that give the work a feeling of a long journey rather than a series of movements. The writing is always very vocal in nature and often reflects folk tunes. It also was reminiscent of Benjamin Britten’s First Suite for Solo Cello (which shares the same Opus number) in the style of writing and the mixture of dissonance and consonance that battle throughout the piece. [Notes by Anthony Arnone]

The cello was the first instrument in which I displayed any particular interest. I began taking lessons at age four on a cello taller than myself. Through those lessons I learned to read music, and through reading I taught myself to write and eventually to have the written notes reflect what I actually wanted to say. For that reason, I always intended my first work involving a cello soloist to be a particularly remarkable one, and discarded several unfruitful attempts over the years before finally being satisfied with the Sonata. The Sonata is in four movements. The first movement is a significant Lento, longer than the others, which begins with a long solo that is essentially a microcosm of the
entire movement. The solo is repeated with the order of its elements reversed to close the movement after an extended development. Following upon its heels are a mostly pizzicato Scherzo, a short Interlude and a final Allegro, all linked. As one of the first of my pieces to go beyond the style of Mozart and Beethoven in content, the work reveals a large number of influences, not all of which are fully integrated. Apart from the obvious compositional ones there are telling reminders of my  13- year-old life—cell phone ringtones (compare a motive in the Scherzo to the original version of the T-Jingle™) and piano practice (the chords opening the finale are the small-hands position of an infamous Dohnányi finger exercise)—and there is also a telling ambivalence towards tradition in
the ending, where a triumphant coda clearly reminiscent of Mahler’s First Symphony is distorted with dissonant clashes, heightened in revisions after the first performance.

The Sonata is dedicated to pianist Elizabeth Wolff, who gave the first performance along with cellist Eliot Bailen at Hunter College, New York, in March 2005.

Cellist ANTHONY ARNONE enjoys a varied career as a soloist, chamber musician, conductor and teacher throughout the United States and around the world. Arnone started his professional career as a member of the Orchestra Philharmonique de Nice and studied with Paul and Maude Tortelier while living in France. Currently, he is Associate Professor of cello at The University of Iowa School of Music, and is on the faculty of the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City where he teaches and conducts. During summers, Arnone teaches at the Madeline Island Music Camp among other places. He has collaborated with many of today’s great chamber ensembles and artists, including members of the Pro Arte, Cypress, Fry Street, Miami, and Arianna Quartets. Performances have taken Arnone around the United States and Europe to many of the leading concert venues as soloist, chamber musician and conductor, and his recordings on the Albany and VAI labels have consistently received high acclaim. An avid performer of J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, Arnone
created and published a new edition of the six Suites that includes a composed second cello continuo part to aid in instruction and performance. As a cello soloist and chamber musician, Arnone was a founding member of the Meridien Trio and the Sedgewick String Quartet, which performed regularly at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. More recently, he has been a member of the Matisse Trio, a faculty trio at The University of Iowa, which has played throughout the United States and at international conferences.

SERRA HWANG (b.1962)
BECKONING for Cello and Korean Drums (2003)

HUANG RUO (b.1976)
FOUR FRAGMENTS for Solo Cello (2008)
Fragment 1
Fragment 2
Fragment 3
Fragment 4

SONATA for Solo Cello, Op. 72 (2004)
Alla breve
Allegro ma non troppo, con fuoco

SONATA for Cello and Piano (2006)
Scherzo vivace
Intermezzo: Molto sostenuto
Allegro pesante e violente

MSR Classics