Jonathan Biss, piano
Mark Padmore, tenor
Carey Bell, clarinet
Scott St. John, viola
Thursday, October 4
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SCHUMANN: Märchenerzahlungen, Fantasy
KURTÁG: Homage à Schumann
BEETHOVEN: An die ferne Geliebte
About This Performance
Biss brings together favorite chamber music colleagues Carey Bell of the San Francisco Symphony, Scott St. John of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and leading English tenor Mark Padmore in a program of homages. Schumann’s Fantasy was originally titled Homage to Beethoven; Kurtág’s tribute acknowledges his compositional debt to Schumann.
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.
Mark Padmore was born in London and grew up in Canterbury. After beginning his musical studies on the clarinet he gained a choral scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge and graduated with an honours degree in music.
He has established a flourishing career in opera, concert and recital. His performances in Bach’s Passions have gained particular notice throughout the world.
In the opera house he has worked with directors Peter Brook, Katie Mitchell, Mark Morris and Deborah Warner. Recent work includes the leading role in Harrison Birtwistle’s new opera The Corridor with performances at the 2009 Aldeburgh and Bregenz Festivals, as well as the Southbank Centre in London; Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress at La Monnaie, Brussels; Handel Jephtha at WNO and ENO and the Evangelist in a staging of St Matthew Passion at Glyndebourne. He also played Peter Quint in an acclaimed BBC TV production of Britten Turn of the Screw and recorded the title role in La Clemenza di Tito with René Jacobs for Harmonia Mundi. Future plans include Captain Vere in Britten Billy Budd for Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
In concert he has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Munich Radio, Berlin, Vienna, New York and London Philharmonic Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston and London Symphony Orchestras and the Philharmonia. He makes regular appearances with the OAE with whom he has conceived projects exploring both Bach St John and St Matthew Passions.
Mark has given recitals in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, New York Paris and Vienna. He appears frequently at Wigmore Hall in London where he first sang all three Schubert song cycles in May 2008, was their Artist in Residence in the 2009/10 Season and in 2011-2012 will repeat the cycles there with Paul Lewis. He also recently sang the cycles at the Theatre an der Wien and at Salle Gaveau in Paris with Till Fellner. Composers who have written for him have included Mark-Anthony Turnage, Alec Roth, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher and Huw Watkins. As well as his regular collaborators Paul Lewis, Till Fellner, Kristian Bezuidenhout, Julius Drake, Roger Vignoles, Simon Lepper and Andrew West, he works with many internationally renowned chamber musicians including Imogen Cooper and Steven Isserlis.
He has made many recordings including the Bach passions with Herreweghe and McCreesh, Bach cantatas with Eliot Gardiner and Herreweghe, Haydn masses with Richard Hickox, Don Giovanni with Daniel Harding and operas by Rameau and Charpentier with William Christie. A disc of Handel arias As Steals the Morn with The English Concert and Andrew Manze, released by Harmonia Mundi, won the BBC Music magazine Vocal Award in April 2008. Other recent releases include Haydn Creation for Deutsche Grammophon; Messiah with Sir Colin Davis and the LSO; Britten Winter Words with Roger Vignoles; Schubert Schwanengesang, Die Schöne Müllerin and Winterreise with Paul Lewis for Harmonia Mundi, which won the Gramophone magazine Vocal Solo Award for 2010 and Schumann Dichterliebe with Kristian Bezuidenhout which won the Vocal Solo category of the 2011 Edison Klassiek Award. Mark is Artistic Director of the St. Endellion Summer Music Festival in Cornwall.
Carey Bell became San Francisco Symphony Principal Clarinetist and occupant of the William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair in September 2007 and made his solo debut with the Orchestra in 2008, in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. As a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, he has performed with orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the Bay Area. He has held principal positions with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and the Syracuse Symphony, and he served as acting principal clarinetist of the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. His summer engagements have included Music@ Menlo, the Oregon Bach Festival, Music in the Vineyards, the Telluride Chamber Music Festival, and the Skaneateles Music Festival.
Mr. Bell received degrees in performance and composition from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied with clarinetist Fred Ormand and composers William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Michael Daugherty, and Evan Chambers. During his time in Michigan he participated in summer fellowships at Tanglewood and the Music Academy of the West. After graduating, he continued his clarinet training at DePaul University with Larry Combs and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Scott St. John is a violinist in the St. Lawrence String Quartet and Artist-in-Residence at Stanford University. The SLSQ performs over 100 concerts worldwide every year. The foursome regularly delivers traditional quartet repertoire, but is also fervently committed to performing and expanding the works of living composers. This season sees them performing new works by both John Adams and Osvaldo Golijov.
On the solo side, Scott made his Carnegie debut in 1988 after winning 1st prize in the Alexander Schneider Competition; he has also won the Young Concert Artists Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Concertos and recitals were part of Scott’s early professional life, with performances all across Canada, the US, New Zealand and Germany. He is especially proud of a recording produced in Vancouver with pianist Rena Sharon: the disc is entitled Salon Parisien and features Poulenc Sonata. More recently Scott and his sister Lara teamed up for a recording of Mozart’s Symphonie Concertante with the Knights orchestra.
Keeping strong connections with his Canadian roots, Scott is Artistic Director of “Piano Plus”, a non-profit that brings fabulous artists to remote and underserved areas of Canada.
Scott is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied violin with Arnold Steinhardt, and chamber music with Felix Galimir. A long association with the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont began in 1987—a memorable summer of playing chamber music with amazing people, like Claude Frank, David Soyer, Philipp Naegele, Rudolf Serkin and current SLSQ colleague Christopher Costanza! Scott lived in New York City for most of the 1990s, and enjoys telling the story about taking a violin “sabbatical”. For a year, Scott worked daytime in an office, and nights at the Disney Store in Times Square. In 1999, cellist Shauna Rolston invited Scott to come and investigate a position at University of Toronto. It was a fabulous transition to a more teaching- based lifestyle; Scott stayed at University of Toronto for seven years and helped to build the chamber music program. In 2006, Scott moved to California to join the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Other interests: early American violinmaker J. B. Squier, early American composers, rail travel, urban transit, California High-Speed Rail, subway maps, maps in general, Disneyland, Disney World, Walt Disney himself, New York pizza, wood-oven pizza, Whole Foods Market, espresso. Scott is married to violist Sharon Wei, and they live on campus at Stanford University.
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