ATONEMENT for violoncello and piano. Commissioned by the Women's Musical Club of Toronto for cellist Yegor Dyachkov and pianist Jean Saulnier. 2012. Duration: 13 minutes. Score and parts available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.

Atonement was commissioned by the Women's Musical Club of Toronto for cellist Yegor Dyachkov and pianist Jean Saulnier.  The work owes its title to the fact that its composition began on the eve of Yom Kippur 2012, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The music opens with aggressive gestures and extreme dynamic fluctuations over the low cello C string and its "overtone" chord, punctuated by syncopated stabs on the low piano. From this obsessive, asymmetrical backdrop two themes emerge, first a Jewish-sounding theme (which is likewise built loosely on the overtone series) and later a "gentile," tango-like theme. The first theme evolves significantly over time and, in the course of its evolution, it coaxes the music to ever-deepening moments of introspection marked by quiet cello melodies in artificial harmonics. By contrast, the exuberant ("gentile") second theme does not evolve at all, except for a fleeting moment of reckoning towards the end, and it is not instrumental in the process of Atonement, at least not to the extent that the first theme is. Appropriately, the music ends with variants of the first theme, which is ultimately the only theme that has left a strong imprint on the music.


Premiere performance: March 20, 1:30 PM. Yegor Dyachkov, cello; Jean Saulnier, piano. Women's Musical Club of Toronto concert. Walter Hall, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. Toronto, ON

Reviews and Comments:

Oeuvre magnifique et artistes spectaculaires! Uliana Drugova (YouTube)

Fantastic piece and masterful performance!! Eugene Astapov (YouTube)

I was at that concert as a student and I loved this piece, I was so captivated with your performance! My eyes actually started hurting because I stopped blinking. Catherine Wang (YouTube)

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