JUPITER DUO - THE MUSIC OF ALLA ELANA COHEN
THE MUSIC OF ALLA ELANA COHEN
Alla Elana Cohen composer and pianist
Sebastian Baverstam cello
First released in 2010, JUPITER DUO showcases music for cello/piano duo, solo piano, and for solo cello by Alla Elana Cohen. She and cellist Sebastian Baverstam make up Jupiter Duo, and have performed together for many years since Baverstam was 12 years old. They perform Cohen’s highly expressive music with an unbridled intensity, and have a reputation for having a close musical connection.
Cohen channels her interest in spiritual and mystical ideas into her music. To start, the name “Jupiter Duo” draws from Roman mythology and astrology to describe the close connection between her and Baverstam. Querying the Silence (Vol. 1, Ser. 2) confronts the loneliness and grief in the face of loss and unyielding silence. Third Vigil for cello and piano, originally for orchestra, is a mystical concerto, written with challenging parts especially for Cohen and Baverstam. It tackles the place of humanity in the universe and eternity—the human world being but a residual echo of the spiritual world. In Vol. 1, Ser. 7 of Book of Prayers, Cohen parses the visceral emotions and states of being humanity experiences in trying to connect further with the Divine. Book of Prayers (Vol. 2, Ser. 4) is lighter in color and more consonant, yet still exudes the passion and intense expression inherent in Cohen’s work. She draws inspiration from the Georgian monastery Djvari, and maintains this connection deep beneath the surface of the music. The impassioned, somber Sephardic Romancero (Ser. 2) is a demanding solo cello piece, performed impeccably by Baverstam. Like with Book of Prayers, the spirit of Sephardic Romancero has deep underlying connections to Sephardic Jewish culture. This a crucial element of Cohen’s style—she conjures up the spirit or sense of certain ideas and moods in her music, while retaining complete originality, spontaneity, and independence in her music. Rounding out this stunning release are two sets of pieces for solo piano inspired by film projects at New England Conservatory. The Three Film Noir Pieces were inspired by the films “Cat People” and “Curse of the Cat People.” Each piece captures the malevolent and sinister atmosphere of the films. Spiral Staircases concerns a film depicting a mute woman who struggles to verbalize her needs and desires. The pieces are heart-rending, once again tackling the echo of sound into silence.
This is music that should be heard by many. The recordings are excellent and were made in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory, beautifully capturing both piano and cello.