Zukerman and Bronfman

Zukerman Chamber Players
Yefim Bronfman, Piano

Martin Theatre
Sunday, July 5, 2009
2:30 PM
Donor Gates Open
3:00 PM
Public Gates Open
5:00 PM
Concert Starts
$50/$30/Lawn $10

Program

ZUKERMAN CHAMBERPLAYERS
PINCHAS ZUKERMAN, Violin
JESSICA LINNEBACH, Violin
JETHRO MARKS, Viola
ASHAN PILLAI, Viola
AMANDA FORSYTH, Cello
with
YEFIM BRONFMAN, Piano

 
MOZART
Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478
    Allegro
    Andante
    Rondo: Allegro

Zukerman ChamberPlayers, Yefim Bronfman

Intermission

SCHUMANN
Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
    Allegro brillante
    In Modo d’una Marcia: Un poco largamente
    Scherzo: Molto vivace
    Allegro ma non troppo

Zukerman ChamberPlayers, Yefim Bronfman

About The Artist

YEFIM BRONFMAN, Piano
Born in the Soviet Union, Yefim Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973 and made his international debut two years later with Zubin Mehta and the Montreal Symphony. In Israel he studied with pianist Arie Vardi, the head of the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. In the United States, where he is now a citizen, he studied at The Juilliard School, Marlboro and The Curtis Institute, working with such mentors as Rudolf Firkušný, Leon Fleisher and Rudolf Serkin. Bronfman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1989 and his Avery Fisher Hall debut in 1993, and in 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. Bronfman appears regularly with such celebrated ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London’s Philharmonia, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. In 2007 he gave the world premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto, written for him and commissioned by the New York Philharmonic. As an “On Location” artist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the 2008-09 season, Bronfman appeared in two subscription concerts as well as a tour of the Far East with the orchestra and conductor Salonen. Recording exclusively for the Sony Classical label, Bronfman has an extensive discography, and his 1997 recording of Bartók’s piano concertos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic won a Grammy Award. Most recently he released a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Trio in A minor with violinist Gil Shaham and cellist Truls Mork. Yefim Bronfman made his Ravinia debut in 1984 and now returns for his tenth festival season.

ZUKERMAN CHAMBERPLAYERS
In a continuing effort to motivate future generations of musicians through education and outreach, Pinchas Zukerman teamed up with four protégés to form the Zukerman Chamber Players (now ChamberPlayers) in 2002. The ensemble appears regularly at prestigious summer festivals throughout the United States, including Ravinia, Aspen, Tanglewood and Santa Fe. Overseas festival credits have included London’s BBC Proms, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier and Barcelona. They have already performed more than 50 concerts and recorded four CDs. In August 2007 the Zukerman ChamberPlayers made their first visit to South America for an eight-concert tour, followed by appearances at Switzerland's Montreux Festival, the Enescu Festival in Bucharest, Romania, and the 10th Jewish Summer Festival in Budapest. Additional highlights of the 2007-08 season included the ensemble’s return to New York’s 92nd Street Y for a three-concert series with guest artists focusing on works by Mendelssohn, and debuts in Miami, Puerto Rico, La Jolla and Las Vegas. Upcoming releases include recordings of viola quintets by Mozart and Dvořák, and Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet and, with pianist Yefim Bronfman, Mozart’s Piano Quartet.

PINCHAS ZUKERMAN, Violin
Born in Tel Aviv in 1948, Pinchas Zukerman began studying violin at age 8 with Ilona Feher. With the guidance of Isaac Stern and Pablo Casals, as well as the support of the America-Israel and Helena Rubenstein foundations, he came to America in 1962 to study on scholarship with Ivan Galamian at The Juilliard School. In 1967 he won first prize in the 25th Leventritt Competition, setting the stage for his solo career. Zukerman has held numerous artistic positions, including music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In October 2002 he became the first recipient of the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence at the National Arts Awards Gala in New York City. Zukerman’s extensive discography contains more than 100 titles and has earned him 21 Grammy nominations and two awards: “Best Chamber Music Performance” in 1980 and “Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra” in 1981. Since 1998 he has been music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, with which he has toured and recorded extensively. During the 2007-08 season he conducted the Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Colorado symphonies, in addition to concerto appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and Cincinnati Symphony. He conducted and played concertos with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra both in Italy and on the orchestra’s North American tour in January 2008. Pinchas Zukerman made his Ravinia Festival debut in 1970.

JESSICA LINNEBACH, Violin
Since her debut at the age of 7, Canadian violinist Jessica Linnebach has appeared with leading orchestras across North America, including those of Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. In 2000 she was guest soloist with the National Arts Centre Orchestra under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman on their historic tour of the Middle East and Europe and joined the orchestra at the beginning of the 2003-04 season. Jessica Linnebach made her Ravinia Festival debut in 2003.

JETHRO MARKS, Viola
Violist Jethro Marks has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, and is a frequent collaborator with many artists and ensembles. He has performed at numerous music festivals, including Mostly Mozart, Santa Fe and the Zukerman Summer Festival. Additional New York appearances include the String Seminar as well as the Jupiter and Lyric Chamber Music societies. He has been heard on the stages of Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall, performing with many American and European artists. A participant in Ravinia’s Steans Institute for Young Artists in 1995 and ’96, Jethro Marks made his Ravinia Festival debut in 2003.

ASHAN PILLAI, Viola
Sri Lankan-born British violist Ashan Pillai has enjoyed a flourishing international career as a chamber musician, soloist and teacher. A winner of numerous prizes at international competitions, he has recorded widely and performed with many leading orchestras, including premieres by such composers as Krzysztof Penderecki, Wolfgang Rihm and Gavin Bryars. He was assistant principal violist with the English Chamber Orchestra from 1994 to ’99 and is currently principal violist of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and professor of viola at the Conservatoire Superior of Barcelona. Ashan Pillai made his Ravinia Festival debut in 2005.

AMANDA FORSYTH, Cello
In 1999 Canadian Juno Award-winning Amanda Forsyth became principal cellist of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, with which she appears regularly as soloist and in chamber ensembles. She is recognized as an eminent recitalist, soloist and chamber musician, appearing with leading orchestras in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia. Her recordings have appeared on the Fanfare, Marquis, Pro Arte and CBC labels. Amanda Forsyth made her Ravinia Festival debut in 2000.

Program Notes

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-91)

Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478

Mozart wrote the first of two quartets for piano, violin, viola and cello in 1785, soon after publishing his six string quartets dedicated to Haydn. According to his works catalogue, the Piano Quartet in G Minor was finished “in the month of July.” However, Leopold Mozart wrote to his daughter after receiving the violin and viola parts that the quartet had been completed on October 16, the generally accepted date. The publisherHoffmeister issued the score in Vienna in December 1785.

The piano quartet’s striking originality confounded the Viennese public. Its demanding and dominating keyboard part, the impassioned minor key and the sweeping thematic ideas are more characteristic of a concerto than of chamber music. The piano assumes the leading role in the Allegro, in a fashion similar to a concerto’s first movement. Broad lyricism sustains the Andante, and the finale is a lighthearted major-key movement.

A review published in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden (June 1788) articulated the score’s fundamental challenge: “The rumor was: Mozart has composed a new and very special Quadro, and this or that princess or countess has it and plays it. The rumor spread quickly, excited general curiosity and was responsible for the witless idea of performing this original work in large, noisy concerts.

“Many another piece can sustain a mediocre performance; this product of Mozart’s is, however, scarcely bearable if it is performed by mediocre dilettante hands and carelessly presented. This was what happened countless times during the past winter . . . It could not please; everyone yawned with boredom at this incomprehensible noise for four instruments, but it had to please, it had to be praised.

“What a difference, when this much discussed work of art was played in a quiet room by four skilled musicians who have studied it well, where the suspense of each and every note did not escape the attentive listener’s ear, and which was played with the greatest precision.”

 

ROBERT SCHUMANN (1810-56)

Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44

Schumann composed his piano quintet—the first grand achievement in the genre with few worthy successors, notably those of Brahms and Franck—between September 23 and October 12, 1842. Robert and Clara Schumann hosted a private performance in their home in November 1842; the official premiere took place at a Leipzig Gewandhaus concert the following January 8. Clara played piano for these performances and traveled with the quintet in her repertoire during her highly successful Russian tour of 1844. Russian aristocrats lavished warm praise on Clara, in particular her interpretation of the quintet, while Robert sank uncontrollably into the depths of melancholy.

The piano quintet also accounted for an intensely uncomfortable scene between Schumann and Franz Liszt. In June 1848 the Schumanns invited Liszt to a private reading of Robert’s piano trio and piano quintet. The Hungarian virtuoso praised the former, but criticized the latter as being “too much in the Leipzig manner,” an underhanded insult of Felix Mendelssohn. When Liszt persisted in the attack, favoring Meyerbeer over Mendelssohn, Schumann verged on defending his recently deceased friend with physical force.

Music critic Richard Pohl (1826-96), a staunch supporter of Schumann before shifting allegiances to the Lisztian and Wagnerian camps, remembered this confrontation: “For the first time I sensed the cleft separating Schumann from Liszt, who had always received him with collegial familiarity and artistic encouragement. Schumann regarded Liszt with a certain skeptical reserve, to which he also subjected himself. The division of musicians into Mendelssohnians, Schumannians and Lisztians—that is, into Leipzig, Düsseldorf and Weimar schools—could no longer be disguised.”

A strikingly bold, full-ensemble phrase fills the opening measures of the piano quintet with sumptuous Romantic passion. The ensuing march combines a lugubrious tempo, somber C-minor tonality, descending melodic phrases and disjointed motives to create a truly funereal atmosphere. Schumann wedges two different trio themes between his mercurial Scherzo melody. In the first trio the piano accompaniment continues the gigue-like meter, while the strings offer a folk-like tune similar to the theme from Joseph Haydn’s “Fifths” string quartet. Extreme thematic and tonal variety instills drama into the finale. A majestic minor-key first theme, somewhat related to the first trio, begins in the piano. As a contrapuntal tour de force, Schumann creates a fugal section combining the quintet’s opening-movement melody with the finale’s main theme as a countermelody.

 

—Program notes © Todd E. Sullivan 2009