By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Youngstown symphony-goers will get a surprising treat Saturday when Inbal Segev joins the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra to present the Ohio premiere of Avner Dorman’s “Cello Concerto.” It promises to be like nothing you’ve heard before on a cello.
Dorman’s concerto will be the centerpiece of Saturday’s concert, which will also include Beethoven’s “Seventh Symphony” and Mikhail Glinka’s “Russlan and Ludmilla Overture.”
The stunning and unusual 22-minute piece will be performed by Segev, an Israeli-born cellist who is known for her lively style. Segev will be accompanied by a three-piece rock-style backing band for one segment of the concerto.
Dorman, 38, and also a native of Israel, is known for infusing rock’n’roll and jazz sensibilities into his music. His unique approach to rhythm and timbre has attracted some of the world’s most notable conductors.
He is currently a professor at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and was recently named music director of the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra.
Segev has performed with numerous orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic.
Dorman’s “Cello Concerto” was commissioned by Segev, and the YSO, led by Randall Craig Fleischer; the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Philharmonic; Musica Nova; Anchorage Symphony Orchestra; and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Colombia.
But it was written specifically for Segev, and designed to capitalize on her skill and musical personality. Segev has already performed it to rave reviews in Anchorage, Alaska; Hudson Valley, N.Y.; and Bogota, Colombia.
Segev said the concerto is unlike anything she has ever done before.
“People shouldn’t expect a long and boring classical new music concert, because it’s nothing like that,” she said in a phone interview from her New York, home. "It’s very young and rhythmic.
“You hear rock and pop everywhere, and it fits into our subconscious,” she continued. “It’s also part of [Dorman’s] language when he writes. The final movement is jazzy, has Middle-Eastern influenes in it, and it rocks!”
Segev said Dorman loves percussion and composes in a minimalist fashion, using repetitive patterns as a base and then introducing small changes.
Dorman has described his composition as “a concerto for a cello that forgot it was a cello.”
He describes it as a story in which the instrument is given human emotion.
“The cello is excited at first to break free of its historical baggage,” said Dorman in a press release. “The exuberance that accompanies this freedom is transformed into anxiety some time during the first movement. The cello tries to recapture its old self, or whatever it can remember of it, in a passionate cadenza-like second movement. Despite genuine efforts, this is not possible, but the cello does find its new place, its expression, and its soul, in the final movement of the composition.”
Segev said the second movement is the heart of the piece and is also her favorite part — and the most difficult. “It is a cry, and the broken chords are poignant, deep, moving and sad,” she said. It is also in the second movement that Segev, with her cello amplified, is accompanied by electric bass, drums and piano.
The third and final movement is done in pizzicato style — plucking the strings instead of using a bow.
Long a fan of her countryman’s compositions, Segev had originally set out to commission Dorman to write a concerto for her. When she learned Fleischer, the YSO’s conductor, was doing likewise, they combined their efforts.
“He read me in the way my personality comes through,” Segev said of Dorman and his concerto. “He thought it would be a good fit, and I agree. I really love playing it.”