“A brilliant and triumphant performance…astonishing.” —The New York Times

Yefim Bronfman, piano
Musicians from the New York Philharmonic

      Glenn Dicterow, violin
      Lisa Kim, violin
      Rebecca Young, viola
      Maria Kitsopoulos, cello
      Mark Nuccio, clarinet


SCHUBERT: Sonatina for Violin and Piano in A minor, D. 385
BARTÓK: Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet and Piano

BRAHMS: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34

 

Due to a scheduling issue, this concert has been postponed from Mar 30 to May 23.

A co-presentation with the New York Philharmonic.
Yefim Bronfman is the New York Philharmonic’s 2013-2014 Mary and James. G Wallach Artist-in-Residence.

Yefim Bronfman performing Chopin’s Etude in C minor, Op 10, No, 12, “Revolutionary,” in Munich, Oct 2005

Yefim Bronfman performs Schumann’s Arabesque in C major, Op. 18

Excerpt from performance of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 with Yefim Bronfman and Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Aug 24, 2012

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert discusses conducting Yefim Bronfman

On the Blog

(Click the names below to expand info)

From bloomberg.com:


Yefim Bronfman Wins Grammy, Gets Paid in Napa Valley Wine”: Interview with Yefim Bronfman for Bloomberg News by Zinta Lundborg, Aug 22, 2013. Here’s an excerpt:

Bronfman: I have to brag about something that’s much more important to me than anything else in my career: There is a wine named after me -- Fimasaurus, a blend of cabernet and merlot produced by John Kongsgaard in Napa Valley.

Lundborg: How did that come about?

Bronfman: I spend my vacations there sometimes. He has a piano. He also has concerts -- and you get paid in wine. You play for 400 people in a church in Napa and it’s all winemakers. They see a poor starving musician so they want to feed you and make sure you get a good drink.

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From wsj.com:


The Importance of Second Chances”: Interview with Yefim Bronfman in The Wall Street Journal by David Mermelstein, Jan 15, 2013. Here is an excerpt:

Though Mr. Bronfman speaks eloquently about the scores he plays, he prefers not to describe them. "I don't like to talk about music that is that great, because whatever you say doesn't do it justice," he said.

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From jewishjournal.com:


Technique, sensitivity the keys to pianist Bronfman’s success”: Interview with Yefim Bronfman for Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, by Rick Schultz, July 25, 2012. Here is an excerpt:

Bronfman also avoids distracting mannerisms at the keyboard. “My greatest idols are the ones who played with poker faces and made great music,” Bronfman said. “Heifetz was such a genius. He didn’t lift an eyebrow. The same with Horowitz and Rubinstein. I pay for a ticket to hear music. If I want to see a dance, I go to the ballet.”

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Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

SCHUBERT Sonatina for Violin and Piano in A minor, D. 385

FRANZ SCHUBERT

Born Himmelpfortgrund, suburb of Vienna, January 31, 1797; died Vienna, November 19, 1828
Sonatina for Violin and Piano in A minor, D. 385
Composed in 1816; 21 minutes

The Sonatina in A minor is one of three duos “for piano with violin accompaniment” composed when Schubert was 19 years old. (They are often identified by the posthumous Op. 137—a reminder that, like so many of Schubert’s masterpieces, the scores were not published until several years after his death.) The diminutive title “sonatina,” meaning “little sonata,” is something of a misnomer for a work that is both expansively conceived and remarkably adventurous in both formal and harmonic terms. One senses the young but preternaturally mature composer flexing his creative muscles, deftly combining lyricism and drama with an economy of means that he had honed in “Erlkönig” and other early art songs.

The portentous minor-mode theme of the opening Allegro moderato, with its wide, angular leaps, soon gives way to a smoothly flowing major-key countertheme inflected by grace notes. In lieu of a fully fledged development section, Schubert takes us on a brief harmonic excursion in the movement’s second half before bringing back the thematic material, this time starting in D minor. The slow movement, based on a broadly majestic melody in F major, ventures even farther afield from the home key, to the remote region of A-flat major, by way of meandering 16th-note figurations that trace a serpentine path through the shifting tonal terrain.

The robust (and notably undance-like) Menuetto begins firmly in D minor but doesn’t linger there long. The middle Trio section provides both tonal and timbral contrast, with the violin climbing into the upper register to sing out a gently swooning melody in B-flat major. In the final Allegro, Schubert returns to A minor with a wistful tune laid out in three symmetrical four-bar phrases. It is immediately repeated twice with variations—a marvelous example of Schubert’s ability to spin lengthy themes out of the simplest material. A brighter melody in F major leads to an agitated section in D minor, characterized by driving triplets that gradually lose momentum as the violin and piano chase each other. Then Schubert rewinds to the beginning of the movement and retraces his steps, this time returning to the home key by way of C major and bringing the Sonatina to a close with a hauntingly plaintive coda.

© 2013 Harry Haskell

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BARTÓK: Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano

BÉLA BARTÓK

Born Nagyszentmiklós, Hungary, March 25, 1881; died New York, September 26, 1945
Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano
Composed in 1938; 17 minutes

The late 1930s was a heady and productive period for Bartók. Relieved of his onerous teaching duties at the Budapest Academy of Music, he was finally free to immerse himself in the study of Hungarian folk music. Its endlessly varied store of melodies and rhythms combined with the composer’s mastery of contrapuntal procedures produced a string of innovatory masterpieces, including the Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, the Second Violin Concerto, and the Sixth String Quartet. Contrasts, written in 1938, anticipated the composer’s leap from the Old World to the New: it was composed in Budapest and premiered in New York City, where Bartók would arrive as a wartime refugee in October 1940.

Contrasts was commissioned by violinist Joseph Szigeti, Bartók’s longtime recital partner, and clarinetist Benny Goodman. The reigning “King of Swing” was looking to leave his mark on the world of classical music. He and Szigeti asked Bartók to write a piece consisting of “two independent parts” (which Goodman figured would fill a single 78-rpm disc) and featuring “brilliant clarinet and violin cadenzas.” Szigeti, Goodman, and pianist Endre Petri premiered the first and third movements at Carnegie Hall on January 9, 1939. When Bartók belatedly presented them with a middle movement, he wrote apologetically, “Generally the salesman delivers less than he is supposed to. There are exceptions, however, as for example if you order a suit for a two-year-old baby and an adult’s suit is sent instead—when the generosity is not particularly welcome!” Contrasts was first performed in its entirety in a New York recording studio in April 1940, this time with Bartók at the piano.

Bartók trains the spotlight squarely on the violin and clarinet, relegating the piano to a supporting role. The opening Verbunkos—based on a traditional recruiting dance used by the Hungarian army—struts along jauntily and climaxes in a swirling cadenza for the clarinet. This solo is balanced by the violin’s equally acrobatic cadenza in the third movement. The title of the intervening Pihenő translates as “relaxation,” but there is nothing particularly restful about this ghostly interlude, in which the violin and clarinet mirror each other’s lines in contrary motion. The finale opens in the manner of a hoedown, with the violin’s top and bottom strings “mistuned” by a half-step. A fast, slightly manic dance, the Sebes is characterized by Bartók’s trademark melodic cells and ostinato rhythms.

© 2013 Harry Haskell

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BRAHMS: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34

JOHANNES BRAHMS

Born Hamburg, May 7, 1833; died Vienna, April 3, 1897
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34
Composed in 1862–1865; 41 minutes

Brahms’s F-minor Piano Quintet has been described as a happy marriage of Beethovenian drama and Schubertian lyricism. The accolade surely would have delighted Brahms, for he was a passionate admirer and keen student of both composers. Beethoven’s characteristically dynamic energy is reflected in Brahms’s protean themes and the visceral vitality generated by his rhythms. Likewise, the Piano Quintet’s rich store of melodies and subtle harmonic shadings recall Schubert’s mastery of song and tonal chiaroscuro.

In its original form, as a string quintet (now lost) composed in 1862, Brahms’s Op. 34 owed an unmistakable debt to Schubert’s great C-major String Quintet. (Both works were scored for two violins, viola, and two cellos.) Among Brahms’s artistic confidants, the pianist Clara Schumann unhesitatingly pronounced the first version a masterpiece, but the violinist Joseph Joachim criticized it as lacking in “charm.” Brahms subsequently recast the quintet as a Sonata for Two Pianos (known as Op. 34b). When Clara argued that the new piece was “so full of ideas” that only a full orchestra could do it justice, Brahms responded by reworking it once again, this time as a quintet for piano and strings. In this guise, as the musicologist Donald Francis Tovey observed, “The rhythmic incisiveness of the piano is happily combined with the singing powers of the bowed instruments.”

Despite its difficult gestation, the Piano Quintet ranks among Brahms’s most powerful and fully realized conceptions. The expansive melody that opens the Allegro non troppo, played in unison by the piano, first violin and cello, is almost immediately compressed into 16th-note passagework of mounting urgency and intensity. The first theme returns in the strings, louder and more majestic than before, above a cascade of falling arpeggios in the piano. A second subject of a milder and more lyrical character is introduced, only to be swept up in an undercurrent of ominously rumbling triplets. Henceforth, elements of these two basic ideas are combined, taken apart and reassembled with astonishing ingenuity as the movement works toward a thunderous climax.

The gently swaying rhythms of the Andante, which Clara Schumann described as “one long melody from start to finish,” signal an abrupt change of pace. Although the Quintet’s inner movements share the tonality of C minor, the tautly wound Scherzo is much the darker of the two. Its tense, demonic quality is only slightly tempered by the C major radiance of the central trio section. High drama returns in the Finale, which alternates between languid, mysterious reverie and outbursts of almost savage vehemence. In the end, Brahms’s instincts were proven right. As the conductor Hermann Levi told him, “Anyone who did not know the earlier forms of string quintet and piano sonata would not believe that it was not originally thought out and designed for the present combination of instruments .... You have turned a monotonous work for two pianos into a thing of great beauty ... a masterpiece of chamber music.”

© 2013 Harry Haskell

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Artist Bios

Yefim Bronfman, piano

Grammy Award–winning pianist Yefim Bronfman is widely regarded as one of the world’s most talented virtuoso pianists. This season he joins the New York Philharmonic as The Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence. In January he appeared with musicians from the New York Philharmonic on CONTACT! the new-music series, co-presented by the Philharmonic and 92nd Street Y, and last month he joined the orchestra for its ASIA/WINTER 2014 tour. He will return to New York in June for The Beethoven Piano Concertos: A Philharmonic Festival, in which he will play the complete cycle, conducted by Alan Gilbert.

Mr. Bronfman is also a longtime friend of 92nd Street Y. Since his debut on the Chamber Music at the Y series with Jaime Laredo and others in 1981, he has appeared at 92Y more than a dozen times in solo recital, duo, master class, chamber music and orchestral soloist settings.

Mr. Bronfman comes to this concert having recently played a series of all-Beethoven concerts with the Boston, Madison and Toronto symphonies. Among his remaining activities for the 2013/14 season, tomorrow Mr. Bronfman begins a short duo tour with violinist Pinchas Zukerman in Ottawa; other stops will include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and Vancouver. He will appear with the orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Houston and North Carolina, and this summer he will appear at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

Mr. Bronfman has been widely praised for his solo, chamber and orchestral recordings. He received a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for his recording of Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Mr. Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic on the Dacapo label. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto, conducted by the composer; he won a Grammy in 1997 for his recording of Bartók’s three piano concertos with Mr. Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Born in Tashkent, then in the former Soviet Union, Mr. Bronfman immigrated to Israel with his family in 1973. There he studied at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv University. He later studied in the US at The Juilliard School, Marlboro Music Festival and the Curtis Institute of Music. He became an American citizen in July 1989. His website is yefimbronfman.com.

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Glenn Dicterow, violin

Glenn Dicterow, the New York Philharmonic’s Concertmaster, The Charles E. Culpeper Chair, since 1980, made his solo debut at the age of 11 in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His honors include the Young Musicians Foundation Award, Coleman Competition Award, Julia Klumpke Award and the Bronze Medal in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1970. Mr. Dicterow frequently appears as soloist with orchestras around the world; he performed Bernstein’s Serenade with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Isaac Stern at Eighty: A Birthday Celebration at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Dicterow is featured on the Orchestra’s recordings of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Also sprach Zarathustra with Zubin Mehta for CBS Records. He has recorded works by Wieniawski with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Lee Holdridge’s Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer; and Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic, led by Maxim Shostakovich. His most recent CD is a recital on Cala Records’ New York Legends series.

Glenn Dicterow is on the faculty of The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, as well as a faculty artist at the Music Academy of the West, following three years of participation in Music Academy Summer Festivals. Beginning in the fall of 2013, he became the first to hold the Robert Mann Chair in Strings and Chamber Music at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. His website is glenndicterow.com.

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Lisa Kim, violin

Lisa Kim joined the New York Philharmonic violin section in 1994 and was named Associate Principal, Second Violin Group, In Memory of Laura Mitchell, in 2003. She teaches in South Korea and in the US, and she has performed with the Seoul National Philharmonic and the SooWon, North Carolina, Winston-Salem and Durham symphonies. She has appeared at numerous chamber music festivals, including those of Meadowmount, Bowdoin and Saugatuck, and her other chamber music activities have included the Philharmonic Ensembles series, Hofstra Chamber Ensemble series and Brooklyn’s Bargemusic.

Ms. Kim’s engagements have included a performance of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat with principals of the New York Philharmonic, participation in a Mostly Chamber Festival with Ani Kavafian and Carter Brey, and Lyric Chamber Music Society with Glenn Dicterow, Karen Dreyfus, Carter Brey and Richard Bishop. She has also appeared with Stanley Drucker, Lukas Foss, Garrick Ohlsson, Yo-Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell.

Ms. Kim has performed in Europe under the auspices of the International Music Program and at Jordan’s Jurash Festival at the invitation of King Hussein. She began violin studies at age seven, attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School. She joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in 1999.

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Rebecca Young, viola

Rebecca Young joined the New York Philharmonic in 1986 as its youngest member, and in 1991 she was named Associate Principal Viola, The Joan and Joel Smilow Chair. After serving as principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1992–1993, including two summers at Tanglewood, she resumed her Philharmonic Associate Principal position in 1994. She can currently be seen leading the viola section of the All-Star Orchestra, a popular televised educational series about classical music.

Ms. Young has performed chamber music with groups such as the Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, New York Philharmonic Ensembles and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She is featured in a recording of Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet with Pamela Frank, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Emanuel Ax on the Sony Classical label.

In 1999 Ms. Young and Philharmonic Principal Viola Cynthia Phelps gave the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Two Paths, a work composed for them and commissioned by the Philharmonic and underwritten by Music Director Emeritus Kurt Masur’s wife, Tomoko. They repeat¬ed it in Washington, DC; during the Philharmonic’s 2000 tour of the Canary Islands, Spain and Portugal; on the 2000 tour of Europe; and several times at Avery Fisher Hall, most recently in April 2011. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School and is the host of the Philharmonic’s popular Very Young People’s Concerts.

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Maria Kitsopoulos, cello

Cellist Maria Kitsopoulos joined the New York Philharmonic in 1996. Her solo engagements have included the CONTINUUM ensemble in Alice Tully Hall; the Phoenix, Westfield and Graz symphony orchestras; and the Athens State Orchestra. Her solo recital debut in New York’s Merkin Concert Hall was sponsored by the Guild of Composers as well as the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation.

Ms. Kitsopoulos performs contemporary music with such ensembles as Music Mobile and the Guild of Composers, and she has toured Europe with the Ensemble Intercontemporain. She is a member of the cello quartet CELLO, which performs commissioned repertoire across the US, including at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. This past January she was one of the Philharmonic musicians who joined Yefim Bronfman at a performance of CONTACT!, the new-music series, at SubCulture, co-presented with 92Y.

Ms. Kitsopoulos received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from The Juilliard School; upon graduation she was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Leadership, and she later served on the school’s faculty. A finalist in the first Emanuel Feuermann Cello Competition and a prizewinner in the National Society of Arts and Letters Cello Competition, Ms. Kitsopoulos received fellowships from the Aspen and Tanglewood music festivals. She can be heard on recordings on the Musical Heritage Society, Angel, Deutsche Grammophon and Columbia labels, among others.

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Mark Nuccio, clarinet

Mark Nuccio, The Honey M. Kurtz Family Chair, joined the New York Philharmonic in 1999 as Associate Principal Clarinet and Solo E-flat Clarinet, having served in ensembles including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. He has been the featured performer with several American orchestras and at International Clarinet Association conventions. He made his New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2001, and he regularly gives recitals internationally. Mr. Nuccio performs chamber music at Colorado’s Strings in the Mountain Music Festival and Bravo! Vail, and in New York at Merkin Concert Hall, 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He is featured on movie sound tracks, including Failure to Launch, The Last Holiday, The Rookie, The Score, Intolerable Cruelty, Alamo, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Hitch and The Manchurian Candidate, and in numerous television commercials, and he has performed on “Late Show with David Letterman” and the 2003 Grammy Awards telecast. Mr. Nuccio’s first CD, Opening Night, featuring the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms, was released in 2006. He holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He serves on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music; teaches master classes worldwide; is a Rico advising artist and clinician, and an artist/clinician for Buffet Crampon. He performs exclusively on Buffet clarinets.

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