With luck, once a generation a new string quartet emerges like a phoenix from the ashes – recently, just such a circumstance has taken place with the Dover Quartet. They are young enough that their combined age is less than one hundred years. Their ability to create new ways to explore the great classical string quartet repertoire, commission new quartets, and interpret – with a passion and color that is most reminiscent of the young Guarneri Quartet when they began their career – is extraordinary. Many of the major sponsors here in the United States have recognized this remarkable quartet and have engaged them; in the next twelve months they’re performing more than one hundred concerts throughout Europe and North America. I would urge you to engage them, too, giving your audience an opportunity to hear what is rapidly going to be recognized as a unique entity in the quartet world.
The New York Chamber Soloists, whether in their programs of Three Quintets, Six Sextets, or Three Septets, or as the New York Chamber Soloists Orchestra are like a great string quartet — performing and interacting as one creative entity. Just recently in programs of the five Mozart violin concertos with Rachel Barton Pine, or Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos with Anton Kuerti, the Chamber Soloists was called “a national treasure” by the St. Augustine Record.
You can watch the Beethoven septet, from a performance at the Casals Festival a year ago online at: http://melkap.com/view-artist/23/New_York_Chamber_Soloists.
Just think — for a comparable fee to what you have to pay for one of the great string quartets today, a number of these programs are available to you — a very different cup of tea for your audience.
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of hearing the New Orford String Quartet once again, this time playing Debussy at the Killington Festival here in Vermont. It was a cool, grey evening with heavy rain, but they still had a full house, and the Quartet played just marvelously. I count my blessings every day for having gotten involved with perhaps the most unique string quartet that I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. These four giants of symphonic music (concertmasters, principal viola, and principal cello of the Montreal and Toronto Symphonies) have taken on with extraordinary passion, musicality, and technical perfection the most rewarding music that every composer dreamed of writing—string quartets. Whenever you have the opportunity, I urge you to go hear them—you’ll see what I mean.
It seems that Poland has come full circle in my life. My mother was born in Poland in 1901 and came to the United States when she was seven years old, I had the pleasure of performing in Poland with the New York Chamber Soloists in 1968 for the State Department (performances took place in Gdansk (formerly Danzig), Bydgoszcz (formerly Bromberg) and Warsaw), and I now have the pleasure of representing the Meccorre Quartet from Poland who is one of the most exceptional young string quartets to emerge from Europe in many years.
Having represented quartets from all over the world for more than forty years, nothing could please me more than hearing the extraordinary Meccorre Quartet two summers ago at the Borciani Competition, where—without question—they were the best of the twenty-six quartets there. At my invitation, they are coming to the United States for the first time from November 1 – 17, 2013, and you can see and hear them online at http://www.meccorrequartet.com/en/.
I just came back from Seattle where I heard Misha Keylin perform with the Seattle Symphony Mozart’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major Concerto and Vieuxtemps’ 5th Concerto. Misha is, of course, renowned for having recorded the entire Vieuxtemps oeuvre for violin and orchestra, and has received accolades in that regard from all over the world.
I’m familiar with Misha because he performs as part of the Hermitage Piano Trio. I had never heard him play solo violin, and was extraordinarily impressed by his performance of those two concertos. The audience cheered, and gave him a standing ovation.
Considering all of the aspects of what makes a trio work, it’s pretty impressive to me that the Hermitage consists of three terrific soloists. I couldn’t have said that before hearing Misha before this last weekend, but he, together with Sergey Antonov, the prize-winning cellist of the Tchaikovsky Competition two years ago, and the renowned Russian pianist Maxim Mogilevsky offer one of the more exeptional trio performances in the world today. Just think—three Russian bears on stage at the same time!
Menahem Pressler continues to amaze me. I spoke with him this morning before he leaves for three weeks in France and Switzerland to judge a competition, give a number of master classes, and play a variety of recitals.
I often think of a line from the extraordinary review that he received in St. Paul, Minnesota, when he appeared there for the Schubert Club a couple of months ago: “Menahem Pressler has lived as many years as there are keys on a piano.” The sense of wonderment that Menahem still has at music, making music, performing for people, meeting new people, having new experiences, has to be the real fountain of life. My hat is off to him!
I think that one of the things that has given me more pleasure, musically, than anything I’ve done in the last twenty-five years, has been the performances that we’ve done under the name The New York Chamber Soloists Orchestra with such soloists as Menahem Pressler, Richard Stoltzman, and Rachel Barton Pine. There are more in the works, as we anticipate in the next several years to also do performances together with the renowned Canadian pianist Anton Kuerti and the brilliant guitarist Sharon Isbin.
A few weeks ago, we performed three completely different programs that included such diverse works as Rossini’s Introduction and Variations for clarinet and orchestra, Bach’s double concerto, the Beethoven Romances featuring my wonderful colleague Curtis Macomber, Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Mozart’s 29th and 33rd symphonies, his G Major violin concerto, the piano concerto K. 595, and the Clarinet Concerto. There aren’t many musicians that I know of in the world, in an ensemble of that size, with nobody conducting, could perform as well as my colleagues did – an extraordinary pleasure.