The American Cello
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Cello concertos are given wonderful performances by Paul Tobias, JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony with two world premieres by the gifted Chen Yi and Behzad Ranjbaran.

Two of the three concertos on this recording were composed on commission from New Heritage Music, a publicly supported non-profit organization which promotes the creation of works inspired by persons, events and ideas central to history. Chen Yi and Behzad Ranjbaran feel a particular connection to individuals striving for self-realization, as they were each born in countries where they suffered the lack of the freedoms that Americans hold dear. Both on this basis and artistically, they proved to be ideal choices to create musical works celebrating the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (Chen) and the life and thought of Thomas Jefferson (Ranjbaran). According to New Heritage criteria, neither work is intended to be narrative or programmatic; rather, they reflect the artists' creative responses to an event or idea that has personal significance. By contrast, Barber's Cello Concerto was not commissioned with any patriotic or historical intention; yet it can hardly fail to have reflected the intensity and angst of the world situation - the last months of World War II and the first few months of the peace - amidst which it was written, the more so because the composer was wearing the uniform of an American soldier at the time. The three works on this program are thus linked by the struggle for human rights and freedom, experienced through singular, individual life experience of the loss of those rights or through participation, in uniform, in worldwide armed conflict on behalf of those rights. Chen Yi, born in China, experienced first hand the lack of those rights. She is one of several talented Chinese composers to have moved to the United States after having been caught up in the terrors of the Cultural Revolution, with its express intent of suppressing China's intellectual life. She came to the United States in 1986, and studied with Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky and earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Columbia University in 1993. In 1998, she became Lorena Searcey Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor in Composition at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Behzad Ranjbaran began his musical studies early when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at the age of nine. Following his graduation, he came to the United States as a young violinist to continue his studies at Indiana University, with composition as a secondary major. He went to Juilliard for a doctorate in composition. His teachers were David Diamond, Vincent Persichetti and Joseph Schwantner. He has remained on the Juilliard faculty ever since.
Samuel Barber, composer
Concerto for Violoncello & Orchestra, Op, 22
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, conductor, Paul Tobias, cello

Chen Yi, composer
Eleanor's Gift
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, conductor, Paul Tobias, cello

Behzad Ranjbaran, composer
Concerto for Violoncello & Orchestra
Virginia Symphony Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, conductor, Paul Tobias, cello

"Paul Tobias...plays...with understanding and flair..." (BBC Music Magazine)

"Cello fanciers need this disc (urgently)..." (Fanfare)
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