Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Interview with Joshua Bell: June 16, 2017 On June 16, 2017 I conducted a telephone interview with violinist Joshua Bell, who is in San Francisco to perform the Sinfonie Espagnole by Eduard Lalo with the San Francisco Symphony on June 15-18. We talked about the following: HZ: I want to begin our chat by sharing with you my own sense that I actually see you as a very “complete musician”. What I mean by that is that: § I have heard you perform in a chamber music setting § I have heard you play as an orchestral leader § And certainly you have performed world-wide in a solo violin role. Have I left something out? Have you explored composing music? JB: Actually I want to venture more into composing. As an example, when I was 20 years old, I would play the traditional Yoachim cadenza for the Brahms concerto. But later I found it meaningful to compose my own music at the point when the composer offered the violin soloist an opportunity to play alone for a few minutes. Then I did the same for the Mendelssohn concerto and other music, as well. HZ: Do you find that your life in music is too busy with travel, rehearsals, performances, and more travel? Or have you been able to develop a formula to bring balance to your life? JB: Yes, it is a constant balancing act. While I try to find time for myself, I am fortunate to have many friends, as well as three kids in New York City with whom I like to Skype as often as possible when I am on the road. HZ: There surely are performance sites and cities where you are in high demand: New York City, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and London. Are there places where YOU love to play for perhaps personal reasons? JB: Yes, I regularly perform in these cities. However, I do not travel very often to far away places such as Vietnam or Indonesia. HZ: When my own 7th birthday approached, I asked my parents for a violin. Was there such an event that first connected you with music in your own childhood? JB: My mother played piano. My sister plays, as well. As a child, I began by stretching rubber bands across the handles on my dresser, and exploring the different sound pitches I could create. My parents soon decided to get me a violin… HZ: My own family first came to what was then Palestine in 1939, and it was then that Bronislaw Huberman and Arturo Toscanini founded what later became the Israel Philharmonic. Now you OWN and perform on Huberman’s instrument. To me, this is one amazing spiritual connection, right? Do you play in Israel regularly? JB: My grandfather was born in what was then Palestine in 1906 or 1905, and I have family in Israel. I play there often. I just gave a recital there in April, and I also frequently play with the Philharmonic. HZ: How did you first become connected with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields? JB: When I was 18, I made my first recording with them, playing the Mendelssohn Concerto and the Bruch Concerto. We developed a relationship that led to my being able to conduct the orchestra. HZ: My recollection is that I met you first very briefly at the Aspen School of Music many years ago. It must have been around 1989. I love Aspen. Do you still return there periodically? JB: I was a student in the early 80’s at Indiana University. I did not attend Juilliard. As such, I was not part of the “DeLay gang” . However, I do travel to Colorado frequently. Recently I participated at the Bravo Festival at Vail, Colorado. HZ: I hear that you have been involved in a 14-CD project with Sony. Does this celebrate an event or anniversary? JB: Yes, a collection of my recordings is being issued soon HZ: Did you ever play under the direction of Carlos Kleiber? Or Claudio Abbado: JB: No, Carlos Kleiber did not perform with instrumental soloists. And unfortunately I did not perform under Claudio Abbado when he died a few years ago. HZ: Please accept my appreciation for spending the time with me and with my readers. This will appear at our site this weekend. You can find it by searching for My Classical Notes. Here is a video of the Brahms Violin Concerto, and you can hear Joshua Bell’s cadenza toward the end of the first movement:
After an absence of quarter of a century, the Russian pianist has returned to Deutsche Grammophon with a new contract and a Beethoven sonata set. photo: DG/Johann Sebastian Haenel press release: After a break of 25 years, legendary pianist Evgeny Kissin has signed a new exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. His discography already contains landmark recordings for the Yellow Label, critically acclaimed collaborations with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado among them, and the association between artist and label resumes with the release of a new Beethoven album in August. The double-disc set, its programme personally chosen by Kissin from recitals given over the past decade, includes Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas No. 14 Op. 27 No. 2, ‘Moonlight’, No. 23 Op. 57, ‘Appassionata’, and No. 26 Op. 81a, ‘Les Adieux’. It also comprises the evergreen 32 Variations in C minor WoO 80 and a profound exploration of the sublime two-movement Piano Sonata No. 32 Op. 111, the composer’s final work in the genre. The album, Kissin’s first solo recital recording in more than a decade, represents a major addition to his Beethoven discography and an essential document of his artistic development. “These recordings were made in the moment of performance,” observes Kissin. “Live recordings always surpass studio albums for me, because I feel more inspired when playing for an audience. It means a lot to me to be able to share the spirit of that live experience with others.”
From the Lebrecht Album of the Week: There is no wholly recommendable performance on record of Mahler’s third symphony. The earliest, by F. Charles Adler in 1952, is faultlessly idiomatic, as is Jascha Horenstein’s 1970 LSO account, but both are marred by inferior orchestral playing and poor sound. Claudio Abbado’s 2007 DVD from Lucerne is as good as it gets… So could a new release be the long-awaited? Read on here . And here. And here.
The South Korean pianist - youngest ever winner of the Leeds – on his inspirations, from Abbado to Unsuk Chin, and Bach to BurgundyWhat’s been your most memorable live music experience as an audience member?There have been two unforgettable concerts for me. The first was at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2006. Alfred Brendel gave a recital whose programme included Schubert’s piano sonata D894. I was not a big fan of Brendel at the time but when he played this sonata, it sounded so miraculous and it just blew my mind. It was a very special experience and since then I have been an enthusiastic follower of his interpretations. The second concert was in Paris where Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra played Mahler’s 9th Symphony. I was absolutely speechless from the beginning to the very end. Continue reading...
The question is raised by two new studies of the nebulous profession, both in German. Finlands Dirigenten, by the Helsinki critic Vesa Siren , is a compendious attempt to explain why so many recent baton stars come from a country of five million people who speak a language related to no other. Siren suggests some of it is to do with the Sibelius heritage and some with quirky teaching at the Sibelius Academy, which Jorma Panula turned into a production line for fresh batons. These considerations aside, Siren comprehensively dismisses the idea that all Finns come in on size, underlining the temperamental ocean that divides the extravagant Leif Segertam (pictured) from the exceedingly self-contained Paavo Berglund. Finns are nothing if not individualists. Siren’s book is an essential bedside dipper for the limitless eccentricities of Suomi men with sticks. Dirigenten by Peter Gülke is a different kettle of egos. A former music director in Wuppertal, Gülke delivers potted profiles of conductors whom he considers important, from Hans von Bülow to Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Even more notable are his omissions – which is any conductor (except Toscanini and Markevitch) who is not German. So: no Nikisch, Mengelberg, Monteux, Mravinsky, Koussevitsky, Kubelik, Abbado, Muti, Mitropoulos, Talich, Solti, Haitink…. it is staggering to imagine that so myopic and insular a history could be published today in Germany.