Strung-Out Sonatas from Yehudi Wyner and Lera Auerbach

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What does American composer Yehudi Wyner share in common with French composer Michel Merlet and Russian-born composer Lera Auerbach? They've all contributed new examples to the ever-expanding repertoire of music for a solo string instrument with piano—a genre called, for simplicity's sake, the "Sonata."

Recent Pulitzer-Prize winner Yehudi Wyner can't resist writing boogie-woogie infused music, and his Concert Duo for violin and piano is no exception. Wyner is still cranking out music with incredible aplomb, but this spiky piece comes from the past – all the way from 1957, in fact, when it's still possible to hear traces of influence from his mentor, Paul Hindemith.

Americans may not be super familiar with the work of French composer Michel Merlet, but this Olivier Messaien student knows how to press all the right sonic buttons – beautiful, tall, stacked harmonies interact with atmospheric textures and a healthy dose of virtuosity in his elegy for cello and piano, Une soirée à Nohant.

The final piece on today's program is also the only bona fide "Sonata" by name, and Lera Auerbach's example for cello and piano follows many historical conventions. This multiple movement piece, with a rather intense dramatic arc, is almost reminiscent, emotionally, of former-age examples by Beethoven and Brahms.

Do you love strings? Do you love sonatas? By all means, settle in!