“The music world – and music itself – is infinitely richer for the presence of Steven Isserlis.”—Gramophone Magazine
Steven Isserlis, artistic director, narrator, cello
James Austin Smith, oboe
Jeremy Denk, piano
The French Phenom: The Life and Music of Saint-Saëns
Saint-Saëns was a phenomenon. As a child, he could play Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas from memory. As an adult, he could compose symphonies, play the organ, even design his own telescope. He just couldn’t get along with anybody, except his best friend, the composer Fauré.
Cellist Steven Isserlis introduces families to the life and music of Saint-Saëns, and he is joined by pianist Jeremy Denk and another artist in a program that includes one of the most beautiful works ever written for cello, The Swan.
This concert is approximately 1 hour in duration.
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The Family Music Series is underwritten by Eva Colin Usdan and John Usdan. Generous support is also provided by The Brodsky Family Foundation; and The Jaffe Family Foundation.
Steven Isserlis is a cellist who is known for his ability to turn audiences into his circle of friends, for his imagination in creating special chamber music programs and for his brilliant performances with the world’s greatest orchestras and musicians.
Each season, Steven performs all over the world with many great orchestras. He also spends a large part of the season playing recitals and chamber music, planning special series in venues such as the Wigmore Hall in London and the Beethovenhaus in Bonn. Steven has released dozens of recordings; his latest is ReVisions, released in fall 2010. It is a disc of arrangements (all made for Steven) of works by Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev and Bloch.
Steven especially enjoys writing and playing for children. He has written two musical books for young readers about the lives of six great composers, Why Beethoven Threw the Stew and Why Handel Waggled His Wig. Both books have been translated into many languages. A CD made with the pianist Stephen Hough, Children’s Cello, features many short, fun pieces by composers from all over the world. He has also written three musical stories—Little Red Violin, Goldiepegs and the Three Cellos and Cindercella—with music by Anne Dudley. Steven’s website is stevenisserlis.com.
Pianist Jeremy Denk is a regular guest of the Family Music series and is a close friend of Steven Isserlis. Jeremy enjoys playing recitals and chamber music across the country and beyond. He gave a solo recital here at 92Y last December, and since 2004, Jeremy has been a recital partner with violinist Joshua Bell, another friend of Steven’s who also often appears at 92Y Family Music concerts.
Jeremy performs with orchestras around the world; in December, he made his debut with the Chicago Symphony, and he has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Boston and San Francisco symphonies, London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and many others. In 2010, Jeremy released his first solo recording, Jeremy Denk Plays Ives, on his own label, Think Denk Media; the disc includes Charles Ives’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2 (“Concord”).
Jeremy’s popular blog, Think Denk, has been praised by colleagues and the press, including The New Yorker and The Washington Post. The blog can be found at jeremydenk.net.