by Daniel Hathaway
Lev Aronson was a Latvian cellist who managed during the Nazi regime to survive slave labor, the confiscation of his instruments and internment in the concentration camp at Stutthof. After being rescued by the Soviets, he was re-imprisoned, miraculously escaped and made his way to the American Zone. After the War, he became principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony and, as a celebrated teacher, profoundly influenced a number of young cellists including Lynn Harrell, Ralph Kirchbaum and Brian Thornton. He died in 1988 (The Lost Cellos of Lev Aronson, a book about his life by Frances Brent, was published in 2009).
Thornton, a member of The Cleveland Orchestra, has launched a project to honor Lev Aronson’s legacy with an annual festival at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, set to launch on June 10, a CD to be released today, May 29, and a forthcoming series of concerts in temples and synagogues.
The CD, Kol Nidrei & Beyond: Lev’s Story is an evocative, living memorial to a great cellist told through wordless songs: original music by Max Bruch (his setting of Kol Nidrei), Sergei Rachmaninoff (Vocalise) and Ernest Bloch (Prayer from Jewish Life, No. 1), Yuriy Leonovich’s Fantasie on Themes from Dvorak’s ‘Rusalka’, four of Aronson’s arrangements (a Hassidic dance, Ansky’s Mipnei ma, Bloch’s Abodah and Lavry’s Kinereth), and Patrick Zimmerli’s five-movement Sonata “Kol Nidrei” for solo cello which Thornton commissioned especially for the project. Spencer Myer is the excellent pianist. [Read more…]