Violin Sonatas
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Virtuoso performances of these important works.

American composer Benjamin Lees was born on January 8, 1924 to Russian parents. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to San Francisco where he began to study piano. After military service in World War II, Mr. Lees began the study of composition at the University of Southern California. He soon came to the attention of the legendary American composer George Antheil, the famous "Bad Boy" of music. Lees left the university and began studies with Antheil in advanced composition and orchestration that lasted almost five years. The recipient of numerous awards and commissions, Lees's works have enjoyed numerous performances by such legendary conductors as George Szell, Erich Leinsdorf, Eugene Ormandy and Zubin Mehta, among others. Mr. Lees's music is unmistakably American in its rhythmic energy and directness. But it is markedly different from what audiences have come to identify as American music as associated with Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. The influence of his eight-year stay in Europe, of the Surrealist ideas to which Mr. Lees was exposed there, the avoidance of folk material, a keen appreciation of the visual arts, an ascorbic wit, and an unerring sense of the true and expressive combine to make his a singular voice in contemporary music. His craft is formidable, but even more so is his awareness of the essence of music, and it is this awareness that is so appreciated by audiences.
Benjamin Lees, composer
Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano
Ellen Orner, violin, Joel Wizansky, piano

Benjamin Lees, composer
Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
Ellen Orner, violin, Joel Wizansky, piano

Benjamin Lees, composer
Invenzione for Solo Violin
Ellen Orner, violin

Benjamin Lees, composer
Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano
Ellen Orner, violin, Joel Wizansky, piano

"(Lees') music is vigorous, well-crafted, and appealing, with plenty of excitement and emotion for both performers and listeners... Lees writes in a tonally-anchored but dissonant mode indebted to such major 20th Century figures as Prokofiev, Hindemith, and Bartok. He is adept at generating big, passionate gestures and rhapsodic sweep... the performers (especially Ellen Orner) are passionate and virtuoso, and the recorded sound vivid and natural." (American Record Guide)
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