Jonathan Biss, piano
Elias String Quartet
Sara Bitlloch, violin
Donald Grant, violin
Martin Saving, viola
Marie Bitlloch, cello
Elias Quartet’s San Francisco Debut
Friday, March 29
Ticket holders are invited to attend a free, pre-concert conversation with Jonathan Biss, Timo Andres and Ruth Felt at 7pm.
The Elias is the best young quartet I’ve come across in years
—The Times (London)
Elias Quartet performs Mendelssohn Op. 80
TIMOTHY ANDRES: WORLD PREMIERE (piano and strings)
SCHUMANN: String Quartet in A minor Op. 41, No. 1; Piano Quartet, Op. 47
PURCELL: Fantasias (string quartet)
About This Performance
“Schumann composed his string quartets while undertaking a close study of Bach’s fugues with his wife,” says Biss. “But Purcell, with his mix of intricate counterpoint and formal freedom, is probably even closer to the spirit of the Opus 41 quartets. The music of Timothy Andres, a highly creative young American composer who is equally conversant with a wide variety of musical styles, is a demonstration of just how far and wide Schumann’s influence has reached.”
This performance is generously sponsored by:
and Amanda L Nelson.
American pianist Jonathan Biss is widely regarded for his artistry, musical intelligence and deeply felt interpretations, winning international recognition for his orchestral, recital, and chamber music performances and for his award-winning recordings. He performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and including commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, Timo Andres, and Bernard Rands.
This season, Mr. Biss’s engagements include the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.), the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Swedish Radio Symphony, the Prague Philharmonic and the Danish National Symphony.
Mr. Biss’s four-part chamber music series entitled “Schumann: Under The Influence,” with partners Mark Padmore, Miah Persson, Kim Kashkashian, and the Elias Quartet, will be presented at Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, and San Francisco. Carnegie Hall will present three of the series’ programs, and all or part of the series will be presented in Boston, Kansas City, and Philadelphia. Jonathan Biss continues to play in the major recital series in the US and in Europe—he twice opened the Master Piano Series at the Concertgebouw, Salzburg, Lucerne, and Edinburgh Festivals, the Beethovenfest, Bonn and the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St. Petersburg. Mr. Biss made his much-anticipated Carnegie Hall recital debut in January 2011 with a program of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Janáček and a new work written for him by Bernard Rands. He continues to appear regularly at Carnegie Hall, and will present his second Stern Auditorium recital in January 2014.
In January 2012 Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete sonatas. Mr. Biss wrote about this recording project and his relationship with Beethoven’s music more generally in Beethoven’s Shadow, an essay that was published electronically by RosettaBooks as a Kindle Single, available from Amazon.com. Beethoven’s Shadow subsequently ranked as the best-selling Music e-book title on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K. His next Kindle Single, A Pianist Under the Influence, was released shortly thereafter. Mr. Biss’s previous recordings include an album of Schubert’s Sonatas in A Major, D. 959 and C Major, D. 840 and two short Kurtág pieces from Játékok that was released in October 2009 on the Wigmore Hall Live label and named by NPR Music as one of the best albums of the year. It follows four acclaimed recordings for EMI Classics, including an all-Schumann recital album, which won a Diapason d’Or de l’année award, and a recital album of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, Opp. 13, 28, 90, and 109; which received an Edison Award. With the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra he recorded Mozart Piano Concertos 21 and 22 in a live performance. His first recording for EMI Classics was of works by Beethoven and Schumann in 2004 on EMI’s Debut series.
At age 20, Mr. Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts in 2000 and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur that same season. Among the many conductors with whom he has worked are Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Blomstedt, James Conlon, Charles Dutoit, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Sir Neville Marriner, Andris Nelsons, Antonio Pappano, Michael Tilson Thomas, Christoph von Dohnányi , Jirai Valcua, Ludovic Morlot, Robin Ticciatti and Pinchas Zukerman.
Jonathan Biss represents the third generation in a family of professional musicians that includes his grandmother Raya Garbousova, one of the first well-known female cellists (for whom Samuel Barber composed his Cello Concerto), and his parents, violinist Miriam Fried and violist/violinist Paul Biss. Growing up surrounded by music, Mr. Biss began his piano studies at age six, and his first musical collaborations were with his mother and father. He studied at Indiana University with Evelyne Brancart and at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia with Leon Fleisher. In 2010, Mr. Biss was appointed to Curtis’s piano faculty.
Mr. Biss has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Debut Artist Award, Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the 2003 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, and the 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award. He was an artist-in-residence on American Public Media’s Performance Today and was the first American chosen to participate in the BBC’s New Generation Artist program. For more information about Jonathan Biss and to read his blog about his life as a musician go to www.jonathanbiss.com, or visit his fan page on Facebook.
The Elias String Quartet take their name from Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah, of which Elias is in its German form, and have quickly established themselves as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of their generation. They perform around the world, collaborating with many different artists. The Quartet was formed in 1998 at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where they worked closely with the late Dr. Christopher Rowland. They also spent a year studying at the Hochschule in Cologne with the Alban Berg quartet. Other mentors in the Quartet’s studies include Hugh Maguire, György Kurtág, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Henri Dutilleux and Rainer Schmidt.
The Quartet made its North American debut in March, 2012 to great critical acclaim. In addition to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, they were praised in the Washington Post for their “shimmering beauty,” and the Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed, “Few quartets at any stage of their evolution have this much personality.” Their concerts in Philadelphia and in Washington DC were with pianist Jonathan Biss; they will return to North America for concerts both with and without Mr. Biss in March, 2013.
The quartet has been chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's prestigious New Generation Artists’ scheme, and they are the recipients of a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Elias Quartet are embarking on their Beethoven project: Learning and performing all Beethoven string quartets, with cycles starting in 2012–13 in various venues including Southampton, Bristol, Brighton, Tonbridge, London, and documenting their journey, learnings and findings on a dedicated website, www.thebeethovenproject.com.
They have performed alongside artists such as Michael Collins, Jonathan Biss, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Ralph Kirshbaum, Alice Neary, Ann Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Roger Vignoles, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Bernard Gregor-Smith, Ettore Causa, Timothy Boulton, Robin Ireland, Adrian Brendel, Anthony Marwood and with the Endellion, Jerusalem and Vertavo Quartets.
The Quartet received second prize and the Sidney Griller prize at the 9th London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 (as the Johnston String Quartet) and were finalists in the Paolo Borciani Competition in 2005. For four years they were resident String Quartet at Sheffield’s “Music in the Round” as part of Ensemble 360, taking over from the Lindsay Quartet. The Ensemble has released discs by Mozart, Beethoven and Spohr with Sanctuary Classics and Nimbus.
The Quartet’s latest recording of Haydn and Schumann quartets was released in spring 2012 on the Wigmore Live label. Their previous effort on that label, a disc of Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schubert, was given the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award in April 2010.
Their debut recording of Mendelssohn quartets for Sanctuary Classics also received wide acclaim, and their performance of the Op. 80 quartet was chosen as best recording on BBC Radio 3's Building a Library in September 2009. They have also released a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the French label Ambroisie and Goehr’s Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records. In addition, they made a recording of Britten quartets, released by Sonimage.
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