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We are proud to share with you our own top-ten list of the artists from our roster who have been singled out for this special recognition. Click here to view our list.
The Stradivari Quartet will be touring in the United States once again in February 2012 and April 2013.
This June, the Pacifica Quartet will be among the first international ensembles to return to Japan as the country slowly regains normalcy after the recent tsunami disaster. As part of a multi-city tour, the Pacifica will present the complete Beethoven string quartets in one weekend at Tokyo's famed Suntory Hall, providing Japanese concertgoers the unprecedented opportunity to hear the complete cycle in such a condensed period.
Join us in wishing the Pacifica bon voyage!
Recently added to our roster, the Hermitage Piano Trio is made up of three leading Russian soloists: violinist Misha Keylin, who has received tremendous acclaim for his Naxos recording project of the complete works by Vieuxtemps for violin and orchestra; cellist Sergey Antonov, who was the gold medalist at the most recent Tchaikovsky Competition; and pianist Maxim Mogilevsky, who performed just last year with Valery Gergiev and the New York Philharmonic.
Over the past season, virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine has been filmed at a number of her performances around the world resulting in a DVD that now stands as a testament to a truly remarkable artist at the peak of her powers. The disc contains live performance footage from three different continents filmed in just the past six months: the Tchaikovsky concerto from Moscow, the Barber concerto from Brazil, and Brahms and Ravel sonatas from Montreal, among other things.
Contact us about receiving a copy and see for yourself why we consider these performances the most exciting and imaginative violin playing from the past forty years.
From Mel Kaplan’s blog, Music From The Inside:
I’ve had the immeasurable pleasure of representing the Ying Quartet since its inception nearly twenty years ago. The group’s wonderful imagination and impeccable taste is reflected in their programming ability, incorporating and combining traditional repertoire and commissioning at least two new works each year as part of the LifeMusic project. Last night at Carnegie Hall, I experienced not just the best performance I’ve ever heard by the Ying Quartet, but also a real musical transformation.
Read the full review here.
On Sunday, October 3rd, we received a call from the presenter in Calgary. The ensemble that was to perform that evening had just contacted him to cancel their Sunday and Monday concerts due to an emergency. The presenter was wondering if we had an artist who could fly immediately to Calgary and play a concert that evening and the next. We had eight hours until curtain.
To everyone’s delight—especially the audience in Calgary—the Borealis String Quartet
was able to save the day, catching ferries and multiple flights.
Unflustered, they performed sensationally, as the review, entitled
“Vancouver quartet shows star qualities in rush performance,” describes (click here to view).
"Not long ago, the Pacifica Quartet was named quartet-in-residence at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The significance of this goes beyond the prestige of the appointment: The legendary Guarneri String Quartet occupied that post for more than four decades. Ultra-talented string quartets abound these days in a golden age for the genre, but the Pacifica Quartet is perhaps most worthy of carrying that mantle today."
New York Times
Music Review | American String Quartet
A 1988 Commission, Revisited on an Anniversary
The American String Quartet is celebrating its 35th anniversary this season, and the Manhattan School of Music, where it has been in residence for 26 of those years, is giving a party in the form of a three-concert retrospective, with two performances at the school and one at Merkin Concert Hall.
At the first installment, at the Manhattan School on Sunday afternoon, works by Haydn and Ravel framed a piece the group had commissioned from George Tsontakis in the late 1980s, and the concert was so beautifully played and so rich in interpretive nuance that a listener who had not been especially impressed with this quartet in the past left the hall feeling that the two remaining concerts should not be missed.
We consider it an honor and a privilege to announce that we have taken on the worldwide representation of the remarkable violinist Rachel Barton Pine.
Learn more here: www.rachelbartonpine.com
Ludwig and Amadeus, Meeting for a Nightcap
The New York Times
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
Published: August 19, 2010
The members of any string quartet will tell you that it takes a great deal of disciplined work to achieve technical finesse and control. The four young Parisian men who form the Ebčne Quartet have certainly worked hard, which partly explains why they are increasingly viewed as one of the standout quartets of the new generation.
The discipline of their music making came through on Wednesday at the Kaplan Penthouse, part of the Mostly Mozart Festival’s Little Night Music series of 60-minute programs starting at 10:30. Yet even more impressive was the spontaneity, the almost freewheeling vitality, in their performances of Mozart’s early Divertimento in D (K. 136) and Beethoven’s late String Quartet in C sharp minor (Op. 131).
A Night of Awe at Ozawa Hall
By Andrew L. Pincus, Special to the Eagle
August 21, 2010
LENOX -- Sometimes you know from the first notes that you're in the presence of extraordinary musicians. It's like discovering an enchanted land.
The extraordinary happened Thursday night when the Ébčne Quartet, from France, made its Tanglewood debut. The group wasn't exactly unheralded. Since its American debut last year, it has been receiving enthusiastic reviews over here to go with the ones in Europe. It has also attracted attention in its persona as "the other Ébčne," playing improvisatory jazz, pop and film soundtracks.
None of this advance notice was preparation for the refinement of technique and depth of intellectual and emotional penetration the players brought to a program of Mozart, Bartok and Beethoven. Every decision -- every choice of tempo, phrase and nuance -- seemed exactly right, even when it departed from tradition. Or, let's say, especially when it departed from tradition.
During the summer of 2009, the Pacifica Quartet performed all of Mendelssohn’s string quartets for Music@Menlo. This cycle followed a critically acclaimed recording of all of those works for Cedille, the Chicago-based independent record label.
It is now possible to watch four select movements from the Menlo performances:
Visit http://www.medici.tv/#/movie/14335/ to view this remarkable performance.
The American String Quartet will release a new recording, “Schubert’s Echo,” on August 10, 2010, in advance of the Quartet’s 35th anniversary season. The recording is the Quartet’s first for NSS Music.
“Schubert’s Echo," recorded at New York City’s American Academy of Arts and Letters this past winter, features three works never before recorded together: Schubert’s monumental Quartet in G, D.887, Berg’s dramatic, atonal Quartet Op. 3 and Webern’s visionary Fünf Sätze, Op. 5 (Five Movements, Op. 5). Schubert’s influence can be heard throughout the entire recording. These works, passionately performed by the American String Quartet, reveal in the context of each other, the continuum that is the quartet repertoire.
NSS MUSIC is the record label founded in fall 2005 by renowned violinist and recording artist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. NSS MUSIC aims to be a haven for performing artists. The label will release recordings of new and established works by musicians across the musical genres, with a special emphasis on live performances.
The Aulos Ensemble has just released a brand new recording entitled, "The Bach Family Album," that features music by Johann Sebastian, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Christian Bach. It is now available on iTunes, and you can click here to preview each track and buy the album.
Aulos' groundbreaking recordings for MHS/Musicmasters have won numerous awards. Their discography, featuring sets of Bach, Handel, Telemann, and Vivaldi, is unmatched by any other American group. Since 2006 they have been releasing a series of new recordings for Centaur Records.
Melvin Kaplan, Inc. has continually offered imaginative and groundbreaking musical ideas for more than fifty years. We represent the world's finest musicians, specializing in the best chamber ensembles and extraordinary soloists.
We look forward to speaking with you about these stellar artists. Bring your audience the sounds of Paris, Prague, Leipzig, Jerusalem, and Zurich, as well as this continent's most outstanding talent, in the 2011-2012 season.
By Jim Lowe Times Argus Staff
MONTREAL – At 86, Menahem Pressler remains one of the most beloved pianists in the world. More importantly, at a concert Wednesday by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, the diminutive musician proved that he has retained if not increased his enormous stature as an artist – technically as well as musically.
Pressler, joined by violinist James Ehnes and cellist Antonio Meneses, delivered a beautiful and musically exciting performance of Ludwig van Beethoven's Concerto in C Major for Piano, Violin and Cello, Opus 56, with the OSM conducted by Music Director Kent Nagano. Also on the program at Place des Arts' Salle Wilfred-Pelletier was Beethoven's Fourth Symphony.
Beethoven's "Triple" Concerto lacks the depth of the Fourth Piano Concerto or the Violin Concerto, but it is a joyful work, full of lyrical optimism and luscious sounds – unusually sensual for Beethoven. And the OSM couldn't have gotten much better soloists.
Pressler played with the authority of one of the world's senior artists but with an effervescent technique of a much younger man. Menses, the final cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio, which disbanded in 2008, is one of the most elegant and refined artists of our day. Canadian violinist James Ehnes, a product of Juilliard and Vermont's Marlboro Music Festival, and much younger, fit in with brilliance and warmth.
In the opening Allegro, the trio's playing, though a bit reserved for this flamboyant work, had the comfort of familiarity with both the music and each other. The rhythmic freedom, all within Classical bounds, enhanced the lyricism. That was even more evident in the slow movement, Largo, where the playing was tender and luscious. In the final Rondo alla Polacca, the restraints were off and rich and lyrical flamboyance closed the work.
Wednesday's audience response to the trio was so immediate and enthusiastic that Pressler, Ehnes and Meneses played an encore. They were just delightful, as well as musically satisfying in a final movement of a Beethoven piano trio.
The reviews are in, and the praise is unanimous:
In the Parisii Quartet, no single player dominates. And they all do... It's that paradox that makes this ensemble the epitome of what a string quartet should be. Few can claim the level of egalitarianism this Parisian foursome demonstrated Thursday at the Alys Stephens Center, yet retain the transparency that allows each individual musician to stand out.
-- The Birmingham News
The performance was intoxicating and at the end of the concert I was wondering if it was safe for me to drive myself home.
-- The Danbury News-Times
With Monday night's luminously performed all-French program at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Parisii Quartet made a convincing argument for the power of French music's role in string quartet literature.
-- The Santa Barbara News-Press
March 16, 2010
"Programming," Kaplan said, "is very important."
And the live experience of classical music is equally significant. "The more mechanized society becomes the more people will seek out live experiences," Kaplan said, reflecting his experience as a teacher and writer on music. "Live performances enhance your appreciation of the music."
Menahem Pressler, a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio and one of the world's most distinguished solo pianists, also provided an opinion. "The state of music, like everything, is always in flux," he said in an e-mail. "Music is food for the soul."
At 86 years old, Pressler has done it all and shows no sign of slowing down. He is currently completing an international tour with recent engagements in London, Munich and New Orleans.
On Sunday, the New York Chamber Soloists and Pressler will combine forces in a Mozart and Beethoven program at University Auditorium.
"It will be a fascinating concert," Kaplan said. "Beethoven and Mozart ... will never disappear, just the way Shakespeare never will," he added.
Beginning at 2 p.m., chamber music for winds and piano will fill the hall with two masterworks serving as the main event: Mozart's Quintet K. 452 and Beethoven's Quintet Opus. 16.
The works have a great deal in common. They are both scored for the same combination of instruments (oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn and piano), both set in the key of E flat, and both cast in three movements with rondo-like finales. Mozart told his father in a 1784 letter that his quintet was one of the best pieces he had ever composed. Beethoven, writing his in 1796, merely five years after Mozart's death, drew inspiration from the elder composer's quintet.
"The Beethoven has some especially beautiful moments," Pressler said.
Moreover, both pieces stand as exemplars of chamber music for piano and winds. Sunday's concert will showcase the New York Chamber Soloists and Pressler at their best. "It is with the New York Chamber Soloists that I played these works for the first time," Pressler added. "While in the meantime I have played it with some of the finest groups in the world, it is always like first love that I play it with the New York Chamber Soloists with the greatest joy," he said.
The concert also will feature Pressler performing two works for solo piano: Mozart's Rondo in A minor and Beethoven's Six Bagatelles. "Menahem Pressler makes music the way few people do," said Kaplan, who as head of Melvin Kaplan Inc., also has represented Pressler for more than 50 years.
The New York City Soloists will add Beethoven's Duo in C major for clarinet and bassoon, a youthful work written while the composer still lived in Bonn.
And although its authorship has been disputed, Mozart's Fourth Divertimento in B flat major for oboe, clarinet and bassoon will bring balance to mix.
"Any quality of life needs music: great music played by great musicians," Pressler said in the e-mail. "And the audiences always react."
The New York Times raves about the Artemis Quartet's first concert on their current US tour which begins and ends with New York City performances and includes stops in Pittsburgh, Miami, Boston, La Jolla, Los Angeles, Houston, Urbana, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Durham:
Music Review | Artemis Quartet
By Anthony Tommasini
March 2, 2010
You would think that when a string quartet changes two players the fundamental character of the ensemble would alter. The excellent all-Beethoven concert that the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet played at Town Hall on Sunday afternoon, presented by the popularly priced Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, suggested otherwise.
This acclaimed quartet emerged as a professional ensemble in 1994. But in 2007 two players left — one for personal reasons, the other for a serious arm impairment — and were replaced by the violinist Gregor Sigl and the violist Friedemann Weigle. The remaining original members — the first violinist Natalia Prischepenko and the cellist Eckart Runge — clearly bring strong artistic profiles to bear because the essential quality of the Artemis of old is still there.
This group finds a balance between projecting musical structure and conveying immediacy. The players cultivate unity of thought and intention but not conformity of sound and style. Ms. Prischepenko’s playing is lustrous and expressive yet focused and honest; Mr. Sigl’s tone is velvety, his playing refined; Mr. Weigle combines dusky tone with hotblooded urgency; Mr. Runge is a supremely musical and nuanced cellist.
The Beethoven performances the Artemis offered were remarkably cogent and organic. The group dispatched the agitated, mercurial first movement of the Quartet in F minor (Op. 95) (“Quartetto Serioso”) with a deft combination of rhapsodic vigor and cool control.
The elusive second movement was riveting, as Mr. Runge played the eerie pizzicato cello line with deceptive nonchalance and spectral colorings.
The Quartet in E flat (Op. 127), the first of the five late works, is my favorite of the Beethoven quartets, partly because it is so blithely strange. Artemis captured that quality in an engrossing performance. For example, in the middle of the pensive slow movement the music breaks out into something reminiscent of a sentimental German beer-hall tune complete with an oompah dance riff, qualities impishly conveyed here. The seemingly breezy theme of the finale has astonishing twists embedded in its phrases and harmonies, vividly realized by Artemis.
The ensemble ended with a brilliant yet never ostentatiously showy account of the Quartet in C (Op. 59, No. 3), the last of the three “Razumovsky” quartets. Like several other quartets, including the Emerson, the two violinists and the violist of the Artemis Quartet stand to play. The cellist, naturally, sits on a riser to bring him into eye contact with his colleagues. This arrangement seemed to encourage freedom among the Artemis players. The practice may catch on.
The New York Chamber Soloists at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Saturday, February 27 2:30 pm
Presenting Babar the Little Elephant
Pacifica Quartet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Saturday, February 27 7:00 pm
Artemis Quartet at Town Hall
Sunday, February 28 2:00 pm
Presented by People's Symphony Concerts
Borealis String Quartet at Tishman Auditorium
Sunday, February 28, 2:00 pm
Presented by Schneider Concerts at The New School
Click here for the full review.
The Leipzig returns to the US between March 4 and 17, 2011.
"The Pacifica completed its cycle of Carter’s five quartets with breathtaking assurance and interpretative subtlety and humanity" - The Daily Telegraph
"The Pacifica Quartet’s extraordinary performance of Crumb’s Black Angels at Mandel Hall" - Chicago Classical Reader
"Never was a group so poorly named as the Pacifica Quartet, which plays anything but tranquilly and mildly. It was intensity and fire that characterized its performance as part of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society\'s multi-concert "Mendelssohn Project." Its performance of quartets Op. Nos. 12, 13 and 80 was compelling..." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Posted by: Alex Ross
"The test of a great recording is whether you find yourself temporarily unable to live without it. For certain overlapping periods this year, I couldn’t stop listening to the Ebčne Quartet’s hyper-lyrical renditions of Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré..."
Ravel, Debussy, Fauré, String Quartets; Ebčne Quartet (Virgin Classics) [released in 2008, belatedly discovered in 2009]
2009: TEN MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES
Posted by: Alex Ross
March 20th: The poetic young Ebčne Quartet makes the New York début of the year, playing Mozart, Brahms, and Ravel at Weill Hall.
IU News Release
Nov. 20, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- IU Distinguished Professor Menahem Pressler will receive an honorary citizenship Nov. 22 (Sunday) from his hometown of Magdeburg, Germany, which he fled to escape the Nazis in 1939.
"In life, it is very seldom that one has an opportunity to make something good that happened many years ago," said Pressler. "That is what's happening here. This is like an act of reconciliation."
Pressler, a legendary pianist and pedagogue on the Jacobs School of Music faculty, will accept the honor from Mayor Lutz Trümper during a concert Pressler will perform at the Magdeburg Opera House.
"We pay tribute to a musician who has gained great achievements internationally and is one of the greatest pianists of our time," said Trümper.
The following day, Pressler, the son of a Jewish textile merchant, will take part in a Stolpersteine ceremony in memory of some of his relatives.
Meaning "stones to trip over" or "stumbling blocks," Stolpersteine commemorates people deported and killed by the Nazis. Once the stone is engraved with the person's name and dates of birth, deportation and death, it is placed flush in the pavement in front of the last residence of the victim.
"This is a difficult, emotional and beautiful occasion," said Pressler.
Pressler has been back to Magdeburg only once, in 2005, to receive the German President's Deutsche Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of Merit) First Class, Germany's highest honor.
The 85-year-old pianist was born in Magdeburg in 1923. He joined the Jacobs School of Music faculty in 1955, the same year that he co-founded the Beaux Arts Trio, which set the standard for piano trios for more than 50 years.
In 2007, Pressler was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in recognition of a lifetime of performance and leadership in music. In 2005, in addition to the German award, he received France's highest cultural honor, the Commandeur in the Order of Arts and Letters award.
Pressler has received honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the North Carolina School of the Arts, five Grammy nominations (including one in 2006), a lifetime achievement award from Gramophone magazine, Chamber Music America's Distinguished Service Award and the Gold Medal of Merit from the National Society of Arts and Letters. He has also been awarded the German Critics "Ehrenurkunde" award and election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to over 50 recordings with the Beaux Arts Trio, Pressler has compiled more than 30 solo recordings, ranging from the works of Bach to Ben Haim.
Still internationally active as a soloist and chamber musician, additional honors include England's Record of the Year Award and Ensemble of the Year from Musical America in 1997. In addition to his busy schedule as a performer, he has given master classes in Germany, France, Canada and Argentina, and continues to serve on the jury of the Van Cliburn, Queen Elisabeth and Arthur Rubenstein competitions.
"Since the beginning of the season in September," said Pressler before leaving to receive his latest commendation, "I have played 33 concerts all over the world, including South America. I don't know another 85-year-old running around like that."
Join the audiences that have already had the opportunity to hear the Ying Quartet perform with their extraordinary new first violinist, Frank Huang:
are currently setting performances for the 2010-2011 season, during
which the Quartet will offer collaborative programs with jazz great
Billy Childs and his Sextet, continue the tremendously successful
LifeMusic commissioning program, and complete the second half of a
Beethoven cycle at the Eastman School of Music.
Please contact us now to discuss having this imaginative quartet appear on your series.
October 18, 2009
An Ensemble With Many Homes Finds Another
By STEVE SMITH
THE name of a string quartet can echo the place of its inception, as with the original Budapest Quartet and the Juilliard String Quartet. Other quartets, like the Busch and Arditti, have borne the names of their founders. You can find an ensemble named for virtually any composer who ever wrote a string quartet of consequence. And then there is the Pacifica Quartet, one of the fastest-rising ensembles today, named, evidently, for a youthful pipe dream.
“The original idea was to start and live in L.A.,” Sibbi Bernhardsson, the Pacifica Quartet’s second violinist, said during a recent conversation with two members of the quartet in a Greenwich Village apartment. Mr. Bernhardsson founded the group in 1994 with the violinist Simin Ganatra, a classmate at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio originally from Southern California, and Brandon Vamos, a cellist with whose parents Mr. Bernhardsson and Ms. Ganatra had studied. (The violist Masumi Per Rostad, who grew up in the East Village, joined the quartet in 2001.)
“Shortly after, we got a little residency in Chicago, at a school called the Music Institute,” Mr. Bernhardsson said. “We were doing a lot of outreach, and it was just enough money that we were able to rehearse instead of doing lots of gigging. So we moved to Chicago, but we were just too lazy to change the name.”
That would have been the group’s only instance of laxity. For the four young players, home is Champaign, Ill., where they are on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They also manage residencies at the University of Chicago and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.
Those residencies establish a firm foundation in a busy schedule of international touring. “All the stuff that’s happening in Europe, it’s exciting to feel like things are expanding,” Mr. Rostad said. “We just played in Australia, and we go to Japan once in a while. The sick thing is actually how many miles we fly a year. Even the cello used to be Executive Platinum.”
On the evening of Oct. 24, the Pacifica Quartet will lay out yet another welcome mat, this one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it was recently named quartet in residence. That position was previously held by the venerable Guarneri String Quartet, which played at the museum for 43 seasons before retiring this month. The Guarneri quartet bade New York farewell with a concert at the museum in May, before a capacity audience.
That the Pacifica Quartet was tapped to replace the Guarneri is no small matter. The museum has a rich concert history: performers like Peter Serkin, Andras Schiff and Cecilia Bartoli gave their first New York performances there. Noteworthy artists have formed lasting associations: the Beaux Arts Trio played there from 1973 until its farewell concert in 2008. Itzhak Perlman’s affiliation with the museum, where he now leads ensembles of young musicians, extends over four decades.
Faced with the prospect of filling such an auspicious berth, Hilde Limondjian, the curator of the museum’s concerts since 1969, was urged to hear the Pacifica Quartet during its 18-concert BeethovenColumbia University during the 2007-8 season. Ms. Limondjian — who found the Guarneri String Quartet at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont in 1964 and brought it to the attention of William Kolodney, the founder of the museum’s concert series — eventually acted on the tip, and it was love at first hearing. quartet series in Philosophy Hall at
“I was transported, and after all these years it doesn’t happen all the time,” Ms. Limondjian said. “When it happens it is so strong, so unforgettable, unmistakable.”
In a cab heading back to the museum, she recalled, she was inspired to scribble haikus on a newspaper. “I never write poetry, and I wrote two of them,” she said. “They had put me into a whole different space. I decided I had to have them for the series.”
To set the stage for the transition Ms. Limondjian booked the Pacifica Quartet to play a concert in a Beethoven cycle divided among several quartets during the Guarneri String Quartet’s last season at the museum. With the young quartet engaged, planning for its first three seasons began in earnest.
“We started doing a lot of brainstorming about how we could make this series interesting,” Mr. Bernhardsson said. The first season, the players decided, they would present “three great programs of music that we had played a lot and sort of associated ourselves with, and maybe recorded,” Mr. Bernhardsson said. The first concert will include pieces by Mozart, Janacek and Brahms; a January program features Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Jennifer Higdon; music by Haydn, Bartok and Schubert follows in February.
In subsequent seasons the quartet will burrow into complete cycles of the quartets by Shostakovich (in 2010-11) and Beethoven (2011-12).
“When you play a lot of pieces by the same composer,” Mr. Rostad said, “you start to get to know them, what their vibe is, how they get from one work into the next — their basic natural tempo, if that makes sense. By playing a lot of it, we end up getting to play it better.”
Cycles are nothing new for the Pacifica Quartet, which recorded all of Mendelssohn’s quartets for the Cedille label from 2002 to 2004 and which firmly cemented its place among today’s elite ensembles with its complete traversals of Elliott Carter’s five string quartets in concerts at the Miller Theater in 2002 and at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in 2008.
The Pacifica recorded Mr. Carter’s works for the Naxos label. The first volume won a Grammy Award, and the feat made a durable impression, not least on the composer himself.
“Obviously I never had the idea that these pieces would all be played in a string,” Mr. Carter said in a recent conversation at his Greenwich Village apartment. “They were not composed like that. Each one’s about 10 years apart. What interested me was the fact that one string quartet related to another one, but that they understood how to keep it as though they were not all sounding alike. I thought they caught that very well, and that impressed me a good deal.”
For the Pacifica members, working with Mr. Carter helped to enrich their understanding and interpretation of his works. When they played the quartets in his home, Mr. Bernhardsson said, Mr. Carter’s comments were generally limited to details of balance and character. “But there was also something about playing in front of him,” he said, “just being in his presence and watching him as he’s watching his score and listening, just watching his face and how he gestured gives you a little bit of an idea, so that actually was meaningful to us.”
Mr. Carter’s music may not be the typical stuff of an evening at the Metropolitan Museum, where the programming generally hews closer to mainstream repertory. But the Pacifica Quartet’s association with Mr. Carter was no deterrent in Ms. Limondjian’s view.
“The fact that they had done Elliott Carter was a great plus for me, because it showed their great range,” she said. “A quartet that espouses Carter and plays Beethoven so well is a quartet of great consequence and substance, in my opinion.”
In the concerts it presents elsewhere, the Pacifica Quartet places a premium on new pieces, playing as many as eight premieres each year. In its residency at the University of Chicago it works extensively with student composers and collaborates with Contempo, the new-music ensemble founded by the composer Ralph Shapey and now overseen by another composer, Shulamit Ran. This season the quartet will join the sextet Eighth Blackbird, also in residence at the University of Chicago, in the premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s “Knight, Death, and Devil.”
Perhaps in time the Pacifica Quartet will have the opportunity to inject more of the new music that forms a steady portion of its working diet into its programs at the Met. For now there is the Jennifer Higdon piece — a revised version of “Voices,” which she dedicated to the group — as well as the welcome opportunities to explore Shostakovich’s music and delve once more into Beethoven’s cycle.
In so doing, the members of the quartet may be demonstrating the seriousness with which they are facing the prospect of replacing the Guarneri String Quartet at the Met. Mr. Rostad recalled going to hear the Guarneri play concerts at the museum when he was a young student at the Third Street Music School Settlement in the East Village and taking a class field trip to Lincoln Center for a screening of “High Fidelity,” Allan Miller’s 1989 documentary about the quartet.
Though Mr. Bernhardsson had not shared those experiences, he echoed Mr. Rostad’s appreciation. “We are very aware how our career would not be possible without the Guarneri, and that’s just a fact,” he said. “They paved the road.”
The Ebčne Quartet won the coveted ”Record of the Year” at the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Awards, for their disc of Debussy, Ravel, and Fauré string quartets.
The young French ensemble, represented by their violist Mathieu Herzog, were presented with the accolade – in addition to the Chamber category award, which they also won – at a ceremony at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Friday, October 2. When reviewing the disc last December, the Gramophone’s Rob Cowan identified “a fluidity to the Ebčne’s playing…that suits the music’s character, a mood of wistfulness that the Ravel especially benefits from.” The Ebčne Quartet, he went on, “score highest for an almost palpable sense of wonder” in these works.
October 6, 2009
East Hampton Star
By Daniel Koontz
The American String Quartet played with force and clarity in the season opener of Music for Montauk at the Montauk School on Saturday night.
If you could magically extend the short life of just one extraordinarily talented composer of the past, which one would you choose?
On Saturday night, a large, cheerful crowd assembled in the Montauk School gym for the Music for Montauk season opener. The internationally known American String Quartet presented quartets by Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert in a free program called “Voices Stilled Too Soon.”
The title obviously refers to the relatively short life spans of the composers represented on the program, but it wasn’t until after intermission that the true purpose of the evening was revealed. It was at that point that Daniel Avshalomov, the quartet’s violist, addressed the audience, informing us that at the end of the concert we would be offering an up-or-down vote for which composer would have most deserved a longer life.
Instead of merely basking in a post-concert glow, we were asked to play God with the fates of three great composers. Thus was the humble Montauk School gym transformed into a coliseum, with Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert as unlikely gladiators in a virtual death match, and music their only weapon!
Of course, this reality-show twist was all in good fun, a lighthearted variation on the partisanship of music lovers everywhere. It did run the risk of distracting the audience from the music, so it was wise to save it until after the intermission. On the other hand, the evening’s performances were so outstanding, so filled with energy, and delivered with such force and clarity that it is unlikely anything could have distracted.
The program began with Mendelssohn’s Quartet No. 1 (Op. 44), the opening allegro a work of startling vitality and tremendous inventiveness. The relaxed menuetto showed more restraint, and the andante was like a “song without words,” featuring Peter Winograd’s stirring first violin. The concluding presto was delightfully fresh, its surprising turns played as if being discovered for the first time.
Mozart’s Quartet in C major (K. 465) followed. Subtitled “Dissonant” for the unusual sounds heard in the slow introduction, this quartet is in actuality filled with the buoyant, cheerful music for which audiences love Mozart. Here, the performers displayed a lighter touch that suited the piece perfectly.
The final piece on the program was Schubert’s monumental Quartet (D. 810), subtitled “Death and the Maiden.” The intense, serious allegro was played with fiery precision, leading to the somber andante variations for which the piece is named, which brought a fine cello solo from Wolfram Koessel. The more upbeat scherzo abounded with rhythmic twists, and the dance-like presto whirled away into a coda of breathtaking speed.
Three of the most brilliant quartets by three of the greatest composers in history played by one of today’s top string quartets — a fair fight if there ever was one. The Montauk audience showed its appreciation by giving a standing ovation. Then the lights went up, and it was time for the vote: Which composer most deserved a longer life?
Well, Montauk is a diverse place, it seems: Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert all received about equal support, notwithstanding one gentleman who tried to vote for Schubert twice (he raised both hands).
So, the question of which composer should have lived to “compose another day” was left unsettled, and the American String Quartet left us with a short Quartettsatz by Schubert. It was bliss.
October 6, 2009
By Scott Cantrell
“The quartet made a fine showing in the first half of the Caruth Auditorium concert, which opened the 2009-10 Dallas Chamber Music Series. Both the Haydn B-flat major Quartet (Op. 64, No. 3) and the Prokofiev Second were eager but unforced, suavely but unfussily inflected. The satin finish on the tone suggested that some really fine instruments were being played.
The concert opened with a musical tribute to the late Dorothea Kelley, for more than five decades the director of the chamber-music series and a regular presence at concerts even past her own century mark. (She died Sept. 19 at age 103.) And there could have been no lovelier tribute than the sublime Cavatina from Beethoven\'s B-flat major Quartet (Op. 130), its stresses and crunches of harmony lovingly caressed.”
October 8, 2009
The Indianapolis Start
By Jay Harvey
The Ying Quartet has a long history with the Ensemble Music Society. And pianist Christopher Taylor's honors include a 2000 fellowship with the American Pianists Association.
So everybody onstage Wednesday at the Indiana History Center seemed a little bit back home in Indiana.
Ten years ago, the Yings helped the Indianapolis-based EMS usher in the concert history of the new Indiana History Center. They had first been its guests four years before, back when their name became known nationally as one of the National Endowment for the Arts' most successful projects, with a two-year residency in an Iowa town.
To complete the Hoosier links, the quartet's return visit to open the EMS season included its new violinist, Frank Huang, a laureate in the 2002 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis. He has replaced Timothy Ying, who now lives in Toronto, as first violinist in the sibling quartet.
The Ying Quartet opened the program without Taylor, playing Beethoven's Quartet in D major, op. 18, no. 3. The laid-back yet forward-looking reading of the first movement was subtly inviting… it was particularly in the "Presto" finale, with its split-second coordination and accumulation of well-turned phrases, that the Yings sounded like a masterly ensemble.
Ying and Yang of String Quartets
October 4, 2009
The Calgary Herald
By Kenneth DeLong
On hand to open this year’s concert series was the Ying Quartet, a group familiar to Calgarians from their previous appearance in this series, their second place win in the Banff International String Quartet Competition, and residencies there. Originally comprised of four siblings, the quartet now has a new first violin in Frank Huang, and with this change the quartet is clearly pursuing new directions in repertoire and focus.
Now the quartet-in residence at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, they have continued their quest with several new initiatives.
These have included the commissioning of several new works under the general rubric of a project called LifeMusic. Sunday’s concert included one of these works, Sebastian Currier’s Next Atlantis, a work for string quartet and taped electronic sounds composed as a meditation upon the effect of Hurricane Katrina upon the city of New Orleans.
The quartet does not force its sound, and those aspects of the music that contain classical values of clarity and balance emerged the best. The strongest playing occurred in the middle movements of the Beethoven Third Razumovsky Quartet and in the finale of the Third Quartet by Schumann which were eminently lucid and elegant.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2009
James R. Oestreich
"You can’t always pinpoint the moment when a rising performer or group has arrived, but this may be one. These young players take over the season-long slot at the Met held for 43 years by the Guarneri Quartet, which perhaps represented establishment to a fault before its retirement last season. They warm to the task in the first concert with works by Mozart, Janacek and Brahms. Oct. 24, Jan. 16, Feb. 27. Metropolitan Museum."
As has been the case with so many great pianists, MENAHEM PRESSLER, at 85, is at the peak of his powers. I heard him in concert in Berkeley a few months ago. He was a marvel of virtuosity, and, with performances in La Jolla, Menlo, and Europe during the past few weeks, he continues to enchant audiences all over the world.
Now is the time to take advantage of this extraordinary ability and bring him to your series, to your campus, to your students, so that they can experience first-hand one of the great musical personalities performing in the world today.
Menahem is available to perform in recital; in a program called “Menahem Pressler and Friends,” with three to four string virtuosi; together with any of various string quartets; in concerti with the New York Chamber Soloists; and – in what is a particularly fascinating concept for me – a sequence of colloquia, where he both talks and plays, passing on his insights into, for example, Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, and Debussy.
I hope to see you at one of the conferences in September, and, whether I do or not, to hear from you in this regard.
Last night, the Ying Quartet received an enthusiastic standing ovation for its performance of Dvořák’s F Major “American” Quartet at the Vermont Mozart Festival. The piece became the four siblings’ hallmark when they first started their career with a two-year NEA Rural Residency in Jesup, Iowa, just miles from where it was composed, and it has remained so through the succeeding seventeen seasons. So it was especially poignant that they chose the Dvořák to close this performance, their first full concert with new first violinist, Naumburg-winner Frank Huang.
The concert also included the Ying’s widely praised “Musical Dim Sum,” a collection of string quartet movements and miniatures by Chinese, Chinese-American, and Taiwanese-American composers. It is but one of the many imaginative, boundary-breaking programs that the Quartet has developed in its career.
Last night’s performance was so captivating that we urge both longtime fans of the Ying Quartet and those who have yet to present them on their series to bring them in 2010-2011.
1992-1994 • Served as the pioneer group for the National Endowment of the Arts Rural Residency Initiative in Jesup, Iowa. Upon completion, the Quartet was invited to testify before Congress about the program and to perform at the White House.
1996 • Named Quartet-in-Residence at the Eastman School of Music.
2001-2008 • Completed an unprecedented two-term tenure as Blodgett Artists-in-Residence at Harvard University.
2002-2006 • Undertook groundbreaking “No Boundaries” series at New York City’s Symphony Space, which included performances with Leonard Nimoy, folk musician Mike Seeger, electro-musicologist Tod Machover, and a Chinese noodle puller and sword dancer.
2005 • Awarded a Grammy for the much-heralded recording with the Turtle Island String Quartet, “Four + 4.” In 2007, the Quartet received another nomination for the recording of the three Tchaikovsky Quartets and the “Souvenir de Florence” (with James Dunham and Paul Katz).
2009 • Frank Huang joins Quartet as new first violinist.
Born in Beijing, Frank moved to Texas with his family at the age of seven. International recognition includes the first prizes of the 2003 Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s Violin Competition and the 2000 Hannover International Violin Competition, and awards at the Premio Paganini International Violin Competition and the Indianapolis International Violin Competition. He has concertized extensively around the world, including an acclaimed New York debut at Alice Tully Hall and solo appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Genoa Orchestra, the Houston Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the NDR-Radio Philharmonic, among others. A critically acclaimed debut recording entitled “Fantasies” was released on the Naxos label in 2003.
Caramoor International Music Festival presents
With Dominique Labelle
Friday, July 17, 8:00pm
The Aulos Ensemble, the peerless baroque band on period instruments, will be joined by the phenomenal soprano Dominique Labelle for a celebration of Handel's vocal and instrumental work at the 2009 Caramoor International Music Festival on Friday, July 17th at 8:00pm. The performance in the Spanish Courtyard of the historic Rosen House at Caramoor will include a suite from the Water Music and other works including arias evoking nature and the trilling sounds of birds.
Formed in 1973 by five graduates of The Juilliard School, the Aulos Ensemble was at the forefront of the now vigorous movement to perform with original period instruments. With the release of their first recording in 1978, Aulos' reputation for exhilarating performances informed with scholarly insight was firmly established. Since the 1980's, Aulos has brought the joy of its music making to an ever-larger public through its appearances on America's major chamber music series and its expanding discography. It inaugurated a New York concert series featuring guest artists prominent in the field of original instruments collaborating with the ensemble. Members of the Aulos Ensemble are Christopher Krueger, playing flute; Marc Schachman, playing Baroque oboe; Linda Quan, playing Baroque violin; Myron Lutzke, playing Baroque violoncello; and Arthur Haas playing harpsichord.
Born in Montreal, Dominique Labelle first came to international prominence as Donna Anna in Peter Sellar's stunning PepsiCo Summerfare Festival production of Mozart's Don Giovanni, set in Spanish Harlem, which she performed in New York, Paris and Vienna. Since then she has been acclaimed in a repertoire that ranges from Bach to 2006 Pulitzer Prize winner Yehudi Wyner. She has worked with conductors from Boulez to Zinman, and orchestras from Atlanta to San Francisco. She is a regular guest soloist in Europe.
by C. J. Gianakaris / Special to the Gazette
Sunday July 12, 2009
The Pacifica Quartet.
KALAMAZOO -- An overflow audience enthusiastically greeted the Pacifica Quartet Saturday evening at the Nature Center's Cooper's Glen Auditorium.
The award-winning ensemble, performing in the Kalamazoo Chamber Arts Summer Music Festival, provided a spellbinding concert, played with great aplomb.
Organized as the Pacifica in 1994, the players are violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad and cellist Brandon Vamos. They are Faculty Quartet in Residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Saturday's program was destined a winner, featuring beloved string quartets by Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Although each piece offered its own individuality and rewards, one factor remained steady in the performances: a wholehearted, spirited involvement with the music. The Pacifica revealed the musical spirit of each work.
Opening was Haydn's revered String Quartet in D major, Op. 64, No. 5, "The Lark." Fresh revelations appeared from the outset. In the first movement, secure technique underscored surprising dissonance not usually associated with the composer.
The group's fine blend and cohesiveness were marvels. Violinist Ganatra's melodic lines were always clearly articulated and winning.
Following delightful moments in the third movement, the final "Vivace" startled listeners by its manic energy. Much more of Haydn was exposed in the Pacifica's rendering.
Beethoven's challenging Quartet in E-flat major, Op. 74, "Harp," also was performed to reveal its inner workings. The intrepid musicians tore into the introduction, displaying the composer\'s abrupt changes of pace, mood and key. The "Adagio," on the other hand, focused on achingly beautiful melody, primarily played by Ganatra but with equally affecting passages from each of the others.
Violist Rostad stood out in passages from the final movement in the rapid-fire passagework and with rapid-fire modulations. Thanks to Pacifica's virile approach to this Beethoven piece, listeners were confirmed in recognizing the troubled soul of the composer at that point in his life.
Mendelssohn wrote challenging music with Quartet in E minor, Op. 44, No. 2. Three of the four movements required very rapid playing. Again, Ganatra led the way in the opening movement, miraculously projecting melodic line, even in furiously presto passages. In the next "Scherzo" section, a sense of the frenetic gained ground, though all the performers proved amazingly successfully bouncing bows accurately despite the speed.
The sole exception to accelerated pacing was the "Andante" movement. Ganatra conveyed lovely singing melodies, as did her colleagues. The effect was of a secret profundity. But the quiet hiatus ended in the final movement where the music reached a fevered pitch at the climax.
Then the full house rose as one to applaud.
The Ebčne Quartet has won Germany’s prestigious ECHO Klassik award for the best chamber music recording of the year. Receiving praise from critics worldwide, the Quartet will be following up the winning recording of works by Debussy, Fauré, and Ravel with an all-Brahms recording in the near future.
Three French masterpieces (Debussy, Fauré, Ravel) played by young musicians with a rare degree of expressive subtlety, blended sonorities and electricity.
The late Faure quartet achieves a fine balance between sounding suave and pulsing with life. Debussy quivers with febrile emotions, while the Ravel soars to heaven with refinement and poise. The CD cover shows men in black, drab against urban concrete: nothing could be farther from this great disc’s rainbow dazzle.
--The Times (London)
The Amelia Piano Trio has won significant acclaim, not least for its adventurous collaboration with living composers. This week it brings one of the most beloved works in chamber music—Felix Mendelssohn's wondrous D minor piano trio, a work Robert Schumann hailed as "the master trio of the age"—and pairs it with a movement from a new work written especially with the Amelias in mind: "Short Stories" by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison. The threesome leads off with a vivid Schubert scherzo.
Menahem Pressler will accept a 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Edison Foundation in The Hague.
The Edison Award is the oldest and most prestigious music award in the Netherlands, comparable to a Grammy Award. The awards ceremony at the Ridderzaal (Knight's Hall) will be aired live on national television and will include a short solo piano performance by Pressler.
"I'm extremely honored to receive this award," said Pressler. "Holland has been such a welcoming country through the years, and I'm excited to know that many years of performances are being recognized."
Past recipients of the award are soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, composer John Williams, soprano Jessye Norman, baritone Thomas Hampson and cellist Mstislav Rostropovitch.
The Vermont Mozart Festival was founded in 1974 by Melvin Kaplan. Having recently moved to his farm in Charlotte, Mel was struck by the similarity of Vermont’s beauty to that of Mozart’s Austria and had the inspiration to conceive a festival in the European model: a group of interrelated musical events in a variety of gorgeous settings.
Highlights of the 2009 Festival will include concerto appearances by Menahem Pressler, Jean-François Latour, and Steven Doane, along with recitals by the New York Chamber Soloists, Ying Quartet, and Amelia Piano Trio.
The New Yorker:
AMERICAN STRING QUARTET: “WHEN ART SPEAKS”
Three distinguished North American poets—Frank Bidart, Matthea Harvey, and J. Mae Barizo—share the stage at (Le) Poisson Rouge with the elegant and authoritative ensemble; the poets will read from their work, interspersed with music by Beethoven (the “Grosse Fuge”), Webern, Bartók (the Third Quartet), and Ruth Crawford Seeger. (158 Bleecker St. www.lprnyc.com. May 27 at 7.)
The New York Times:
AMERICAN STRING QUARTET (Wednesday) This excellent ensemble collaborates with Triptych Readings for a concert called “When Art Speaks.” The poets Matthea Harvey, Frank Bidart and J. Mae Barizo will read original poems written for the event. The ensemble performs Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, Webern’s “Five Pieces,” Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Quartet 1931 and Bartok’s Quartet No. 3. At 7 p.m., Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 505-3474, lepoissonrouge.com; $20; $10 for students.
Following a season during which it won a Grammy Award and was designated as Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year," the Pacifica Quartet will be making its debut at the acclaimed Music@Menlo festival.
While at Menlo, the Pacifica will perform the complete cycle of Mendelssohn's string quartets.
“A new gold standard for performances of Mendelssohn’s string quartets.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
As of this summer, the Ying Quartet will be welcoming the renowned violinist Frank Huang to join its musical family.
After nearly twenty years as an all-sibling string quartet, the Yings were faced with a unique challenge when first violinist Timothy Ying decided to pursue more personal goals and relocate to Canada with his wife and family. After an intensive search, the Quartet was thrilled to find Mr. Huang, and is looking forward to introducing him to you and your audience next season.
Frank Huang was born in Beijing and moved to Texas with his family at the age of seven. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious international awards, included prizes at the Naumburg, Paganini, and Hanover Competitions, and has concertized extensively around the world, including an acclaimed New York debut at Alice Tully Hall and solo appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, Genoa Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the NDR-Radio Philharmonic, among others.
The Leipzig String Quartet will return once again to festivals in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Parry Sound as part of a whirlwind Canadian tour.
Highlights of the tour include a performance of Haydn's "Seven Last Words" and a collaboration with Karl Leister, the renowned former principal clarinetist of the Berlin Philharmonic.
Festival of the Sound -- July 28 and 29, 2009
Click here to view programs.
Toronto Summer Music -- July 31, 2009
Click here to view the program.
Ottawa Chamber Music Festival -- August 1 and 2, 2009
Click here to view programs.
Festival Vancouver -- August 3, 2009
Click here to view the program.
In May and June of 2009, the Borealis String Quartet is traveling in Asia on a thirty-six day tour throughout Taiwan and Japan. Of the many highlights, the Borealis will be performing five concerts in Taiwan, one in the prestigious National Concert Hall in Taipei in addition to performing in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.
As well as their concertizing, the Borealis will be giving 12 masterclasses and coachings at universities and music schools throughout the tour.