Composers: Avner Dorman
Compositions: Letters from Gettysburg
Performers: The Gettysburg College Choir, Tremolo Percussion/Robert Natter
Catalogue Number: Canary Classics CC17

He was just 21 when he died from a bullet in his lung. Among the 46,000 slain in the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Lt Rush Palmer Cady of the NY State Infantry has become a timely reminder of the tragic cost of war. Cady’s letters home are the inspiration behind Avner Dorman’s Letters from Gettysburg, a five-movement work for chorus, soloists and percussion written for students at Gettysburg College where Dorman teaches.

Bells evoke a memorial atmosphere against which Dorman creates varying textures for the delivery of Cady’s words. Texts are sometimes broken up or very softly uttered. Battle, the central movement, unleashes a maelstrom of sound, evoking the confusion and horror of armed conflict. The young voices realise the poignant score with great commitment.

The rest of the disc is taken up with music written for violinist Gil Shaham and his pianist sister, Orli. After Brahms is a set of three piano intermezzos fashioned after the example of the romantic master. The first, after Op. 118, No 1 is a densely layered outpouring, while the second, after Op. 119, No 1 is more languorous, but with a passionate centre. The third is intense and melancholy. Nigunim, Dorman’s third violin sonata, is named after short Jewish melodies that have much in common with other musical traditions. There are plenty of opportunities for virtuoso display for both violin and piano, clearly relished by these eloquent performers.