Wednesday, December 7, 2016
The weekly tour-whirl diary of Anthea Kreston, American violinist in the Berlin-based Artemis Quartet: As I wait for my train to Bremen, in the midst of a heavy 12 days of touring, I am reflecting on my transition into this new country, this new life, this new work. Now we have been here for 10 months, and what was once a constant feeling of bewilderment has transformed, in fits and starts, into a new sensation. Not comfort, not yet, but I feel my stride on these wide, cold sidewalks is longer, more confident, my shoulders sit back on the bone more, my head is up and I can take in the world, instead of it taking me in. Our new repertoire is well-in-hand – I love our take on Haydn – strong, straight-forward, but with moments of surprising flexibility and fragility. Each member takes their place on the stage, four strong personalities, but eager to inspire one another, allow one another to take flight. Our new series in Munich, in the glorious Prince Regent Theater (a 1,100 seat hall, with a wide generous arch of seats, delicately painted ceiling, and golden columns festooned with statuary) came off with a bang, with a full hall and great review. The following night, in Berlin, we were honored with the German Record Critics’ Award “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”, an award given solely by music critics, writers, editors and musicologists, which was delivered on-stage after intermission. Following the concert (and champagne reception) I headed over to the Gendarmenmarkt, where old friends of mine from St Paul Chamber Orchestra had just finished a concert of their own, and who had already ordered a meal for me, waiting luke-warm on a plate amongst the laughter and camaraderie of this incredible group of musicians. By the time I got home, my window of my brief Berlin stay had dwindled into a few short hours. I took the sleep that I could, woke early to repack and make breakfast for the family before heading to Frankfurt for the next leg of the tour. On my arrival at my hotel, I couldn’t help but laugh as I took off my “pair” of shoes – one boot and one sneaker. There went my dream of a little nap in the hotel, as I ran quickly to buy a pair of shoes which would get me through the next 4 days. I am not sure which is more disturbing (funny?) – what my state of mind must have been when I put them on, or the fact that it took me 6 hours to notice. As I open to my place here, I have enjoyed reaching out and hearing of others’ transitions – whether new or old. In speaking with the inspiring and magical cellist Gary Hoffman, who is a colleague and master teacher at La Chapelle de Musique Reine Elizabeth in Brussels, I was struck by his beautiful reflections, which I will quote below. “Hi Anthea, I’ve been living In Paris for 26 years. I’m still Canadian/American but no doubt I see many things from a very different perspective after all this time in Europe. The transition from what it was to what it is now has happened very naturally. Of course music is based very much on what we know and feel and what we do. But after all this time, and it is something I repeat often to young musicians, my students and others, I’ve come to understand how much it has to do with what one is. And that has a great deal to do with what one has lived, the richness of personal experiences, of seeing the world in other ways, in short, the broadening of horizons and encompassing a larger scope of view. This probably more than anything has influenced my musical and, no doubt, personal development.” Gary Hoffman
The Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco has had during about two decades the luck of being directed by Jorge Cometti and having Leila Makarius in charge of musical activities. Together they are responsible for hundreds of worthwhile concerts both in the mother house (Suipacha half a block from Libertador) and in the Hernán Vigo Suárez at Hipólito Yrigoyen. To boot the Fernández Blanco has a lovely main hall of warm acoustics. But two special projects stand out; one has been going on for many years: La Capilla del Sol, a vocal and instrumental group led by Ramiro Albino (collaborator of the Herald during a long time) specialized in Baroque Latinamerican music. The other, after exhaustive preparation, was born last year and should be a staple of our musical life: Fernández Blanco was a great collector of string instruments of the master Italian luthiers of the Eighteenth-Century and eventually it became the best collection of its kind in South America. The Colón had it in loan from the Fifties to 2007, when the Museum recuperated it and started a curatorial team featuring Horacio Piñeiro (restoration) and Pablo Saraví (violinist and connoisseur of the great schools of North Italy, particularly that of Cremona: Stradivarius, Amati, Guarnerius). Last year two things happened: a room adjoining the main hall was dedicated to show the collection under the best possible conditions; and a cycle of four concerts was organized so that the audience could hear them played by outstanding artists. This season a similar series was given and I caught the last one: it proved a memorable evening of exquisite Mozart. Both Cometti (giving a general survey) and Saraví (explaining each instrument) added greatly to the enjoyment: they were models of useful information. And we had the best local quartet, the Petrus, playing at their highest level, plus a guest of star quality: oboist Néstor Garrote, first desk of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic. The Petrus is made up of Saraví and Hernán Briático, violins; Adrián Felizia, viola; and Gloria Pankáeva, cello. It would be churlish to make any distinction: all were inspired. The Divertimento K. 137 is generally played by a string ensemble but the option for quartet was sanctioned by the composer. Then, Quartet Nº 16, K.458, "The hunt", one of the mature six dedicated to Franz Joseph Haydn, and they are a wonder of perfection: chamber music at its best. The sole Quartet for oboe and strings is so beautiful that one can only be sorry that Mozart didn´t write another. The outstanding instrument was a Guarneri del Gesù, but the others were also specimens of wonderful tone, round and true: from Guadagnini, Storioni, Cappa, Grancino, Steffani, Mantegazza, and Piñeiro on a model by A. Guarneri (the cello). For Buenos Aires Herald
Composer Joseph Haydn was an innovator. He created style for chamber music that influenced composers of string quartets for years after Haydn died. Now we have a performance group that brings us illustrations of Haydn’s genius: Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 50 Nos. 1-6 (complete) Performed from the Artaria edition published in Vienna in December 1787 by the London Haydn Quartet. The London Haydn Quartet shows us that the six Op 50 quartets are more serious than the Op 33 ‘Russian’ quartets which they follow in Haydn’s output. The BBC Music Magazine wrote: “gut strings and paucity of vibrato notwithstanding, [the London Haydn Quartet] play with all the radiant resonance of timbre of their previous releases in this on-going Haydn series…there is never a dull moment, and the recording is of answering immediacy and bloom” Here is the London Haydn Quartet playing extracts from this recording:
Johannes Brahms composed symphonies, songs, works for choir, and a Requiem in memory of his mother. On this DVD we have an opportunity to explore all of his chamber music, ranging from instrumental sonatas, to quartets and sextets. Brahms: The Complete Chamber Music Brahms: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-3 (complete) Sonatensatz (Scherzo from the F.A.E. sonata), WoO 2 Cello Sonata No. 1 In E Minor, Op. 38 Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99 Clarinet Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 120 No. 1 Clarinet Sonata No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 120 No. 2 Piano Trios Nos. 1-3 (Complete) Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114 Horn Trio in E flat major, Op. 40 Piano Quartets Nos. 1-3 (Complete) String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51 No. 1 String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51 No. 2 String Quartet No. 3 in B flat major, Op. 67 Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34 Sonata for 2 pianos in F minor, Op. 34b Variations on a theme by Haydn for two pianos, Op. 56b ‘St Anthony Variations’ String Quintet No. 1 in F major, Op. 88 String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111 Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115 String Sextet No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 18 String Sextet No. 2 in G major, Op. 36 This release is set to cause quite a stir in a number of ways: It is the first-ever complete video release of Brahms’ chamber music and most of the films presented here are so far unpublished. Moreover, the 15 hours of SD-quality video material presented here on a single Blu-ray disc are equivalent to about eight standard DVD releases. This edition features great performances by some of yesterday’s and today’s most outstanding artists showcasing their amazing artistry in excellent performances. Here, for your enjoyment, is solo piano music by Johannes Brahms:
Our diarist Anthea Kreston, violinist of the Artemis Quartet, just can’t get enough of sharing the skills – with anyone from three years up. What does a career in chamber music entail? Besides an intense and personal rehearsal schedule, it involves intricate, interwoven travel plans, publicity, and teaching. Top chamber ensembles (such as the Emerson Quartet) have busy and regular teaching careers, and to have a solid, contracted teaching position is a coveted opportunity. As a quartet, we teach at the University of the Arts in Berlin (where we each take responsibility for 8 groups, and share responsibility for an additional 8 “Master Groups”, which often travel from abroad for short periods of intense work with the quartet). In Brussels, we are the resident chamber music teachers at Chapelle Musicale Reine Elizabeth. It is here that I spent the better part of this week, while members of the quartet were off recording CD’s for upcoming projects. Chapelle holds a unique position in the world as an exclusive training ground for today’s top soloists and chamber ensembles. There are 6 master teachers – Artemis for chamber, Gary Hoffman cello, Louis Lortie piano, Augustin Dumay violin, José van Dam voice, and Miguel da Silva viola. 66 students from 20 countries live and work at the Chapelle – a series of buildings surrounded by woods, 30 minutes outside of Brussels. 270 concerts (guests and resident artists) are presented annually, and I was able to attend a concert of the fabulous Ebene Quartet this week. Students at Chapelle are the elite of tomorrow – and many already have international performing careers, recording contracts, and management. One of our quartets, the very young French quartet Arod , just swept the ARD in Munich – arguably the world’s most coveted chamber music prize. I am picked up by the driver at the airport – luggage carried and doors opened – and dropped at my 4 star hotel. Later in the day I arrive at Chapelle, greeted by the artistic staff and executive director. Our coaching sessions are in state-of-the-art concert spaces, and last for 4 hours per group, all in one chunk – a challenge for all of us for concentration and musical commitment. This time, I had the opportunity to work with the Busch Trio – 8 hours on the Beethoven Triple, which they are preparing for concerts beginning in one month (including Warsaw Symphony with American conductor Karina Canellakis). This young trio, made up of Israeli brothers on piano and cello, and a Dutch violinist, plays with passion, intelligence, and sweep. The luxury of 8 hours on one work allows us to dig deep – not only about the music, but also about inter-personal relationships, career advice, and even touring stories (we enjoyed reciting the “5th Concert Group Sworn Statement” together at the large communal students’ table over dinner). Another two trios were there this time as well – the French/American Trio Zadig (recently returned from successes at the Fischoff Competition) and a new group – Trio Sora – a young Latvian/French trio just getting their feet wet on the festival circuit. Zadig and I had worked together before – their raw energy and passion are easy to get swept away by – and our hours together slipped away before we knew it. Ian Barber, the American pianist of Zadig, sent me his thoughts today. “We heard about Chapelle from our friends in the Arod Quartet 4 days before the audition. We were all very nervous and had planned to be there early but went to the wrong train station and ended up arriving right before our audition time! Anyway, we felt a bit shaky for the audition but very happily we were accepted. It has definitely been one of the best things that has happened for our trio. The level at the Chapel is so high and we were very motivated to improve and play our best for the lessons for the Artemis. Our first lesson with Anthea was exactly the type of coaching we were needing. We were preparing for the Fischoff competition and she was tough! She really gave us the motivation and inspiration to work hard and do our best for the competition.” I had a fun time pulling my original parts from my library before flying to Brussels – 3 Haydn trios, the often overlooked Chausson, Schumann, Beethoven triple and Archduke, Piazzolla and a new work I did not know. I was able to share my experience and bowings/fingerings from Ida Kavafian and Isaac Stern, who I adore (their markings are often more dangerous and extremely creative). One accidental strength of the Artemis Quartet is that both violinists were members of successful piano trios – enabling us to slip easily between teaching trios and quartets. Because I will be returning in several weeks, I was able to give specific assignments (score study and recommended reading and listening) to the groups, and several will be sending videos of their progress for review in the gap between visits. But – I must say, that my favorite teaching here thus far has been starting two friends of my daughters – one age 3 and one age 5. To be able to join in the pure joy and spontaneity of discovery, aided by my extensive sticker collection, never fails to connect me with my first and deepest memories.
Symphony Hall, Birmingham Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla commanded orchestra and audience alike in a programme that spanned work by Mahler, Hadyn and her own Lithuanian compatriotsMirga Gražinytė-Tyla is only at the beginning of her tenure as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, but there is already evidence – following the major acclaim of her August concerts at Symphony Hall and the Proms – of a formidable relationship forged with orchestra and audience alike. Gražinytė-Tyla’s combination of precision, poise and power is remarkable and the occasional frissons of electrical charge in this performance said it all.Symphonies by Haydn, father of the form, and Mahler, whose works are its apotheosis, were prefaced with a tone poem by Gražinytė-Tyla’s Lithuanian compatriot Raminta Šerkšnytė, with aural connections made to add a subtle dimension to the experience. The opening of Šerkšnytė’s Ugnys (Fires) – marked misterioso and evoking a stark, almost primeval landscape – was in itself arresting, and it resonated in retrospect when Gražinytė-Tyla mirrored this still, slightly chill aura in the introduction to Mahler’s First Symphony. The elemental quality of Šerkšnytė’s music and its fiery explosiveness made its own mark, but its affinities with Mahler’s instrumentation and his expressive intentions were all the more noteworthy. Continue reading...
Joseph Haydn (31 March 1732 - 31 May 1809) was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form. A life-long resident of Austria, Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Hungarian aristocratic Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, "forced to become original". At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe. Joseph Haydn was the brother of Michael Haydn, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Haydn, a tenor. He was also a close friend of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a teacher of Ludwig van Beethoven.
Great composers of classical music