Sonata No. 3

It’s official. Pure and simple beauty is back, maybe even with a vengeance. Lou Harrison, Ned Rorem, heck, even Lowell Liebermann stuck to their aesthetic guns long enough to endure the tidal waves of postmodernism and new complexity, not to mention that tsunami known as serialism, and their brand of lyricism, aimed directly at the heart—thankfully restraining some of that over-the-top neo-romantic drama—seems to be the predominant trend in composition these days. This shift crosses generation gaps and geography: Downtown is dead (or moved to find cheaper rents). Take note, there’s a new name in the insurgency for beauty camped out in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s Jeremy Beck. His Sonata No. 3 for cello and piano is stripped naked: melody, harmony, rhythm. These are the only ingredients that really matter inside this realm of everything pretty. Then there’s the push and pull as the music surfs that blurry cusp between heartfelt and overwrought. But don’t worry, Beck won’t be partying with John Tesh, Yanni, or the guys from Shadowfax anytime soon.

—RN