Following the release of their latest recording, cellist Eric Edberg and pianist John Kamfonas present a program that includes two sonatas by American composers Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) and Samuel Barber (1910-1981). Despite their divergent styles, these two composers chose to forge their own musical paths that veered away from the conscious cultivation of an “American” contemporary musical identity occupied by their contemporaries Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Charles Ives among others.
Hovhaness’ exposure to the vocal music of Armenian priest and composer Komitas Vartabed inspired his lifelong travels throughout Asia where he constantly learned and appropriated traditional music styles of Armenia, India, Japan, and Korea. In Barber’s case, his early exposure to the operatic tradition through his aunt, the celebrated contralto Louise Homer, and through travels to Europe produced an affinity for lyrical melodies that would manifest themselves in many of his compositions. This shared early love for vocal music further unites these composers as it inspired a poignant lyricism present within these sonatas and throughout their musical outputs. Complementing these works, the program features other pieces by Hovhaness, Arvo Pärt, as well as duo improvisations inspired by this music.