Friday, March 17, 2017 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
All SCHUBERT Program:
Sonata in A Major, D. 959; Schwanengesang, D. 957
About This Performance
Sublime English tenor Mark Padmore returns to SF Performances with kindred spirit Jonathan Biss in a recital pairing indelible works from Schubert’s final months, lending their insights to a visionary whose unmistakable “Late Style” arrived at age 31. About an earlier performance of the Schwanengesang, the Telegraph observed, “Padmore gave the words an almost bodiless yearning quality.”
“British tenor Mark Padmore and American pianist Jonathan Biss fused words and music in a supreme partnership that conveyed emotions with transcendent, eye-opening profundity.”
—SF Classical Voice
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 an international career in opera, concert and recital. His appearances in Bach Passions have gained particular notice especially his acclaimed performances as Evangelist in the St. Matthew and St. John Passions with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, staged by Peter Sellars, including Berlin, Salzburg, New York and the BBC Proms.
In the opera house Mark has worked with directors Peter Brook, Katie Mitchell, Mark Morris and Deborah Warner. Recent work includes the leading roles in Harrison Birtwistle’s The Corridor and The Cure at the Aldeburgh Festival and Linbury Theatre, Covent Garden; Handel Jephtha for WNO and ENO, Captain Vere in Britten’s Billy Budd and Evangelist in a staging of St. Matthew Passion for Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He also played Peter Quint in an acclaimed BBC TV production of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and recorded the title role in La Clemenza di Tito with René Jacobs for Harmonia Mundi. Future roles include Third Angel/John in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
In concert he has performed with the world’s leading orchestras including the Bavarian Radio and London Symphony Orchestras, Berlin, Vienna, New York and London Philharmonic Orchestras, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Philharmonia. He makes regular appearances with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with whom he has conceived projects exploring both Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions.
Mark has given recitals worldwide. He has performed the three Schubert song cycles in London, Liverpool, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna and New York as well as at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg. Regular recital partners include Kristian Bezuidenhout, Jonathan Biss, Imogen Cooper, Julius Drake, Till Fellner, Simon Lepper, Paul Lewis, Roger Vignoles and Andrew West.
Composers who have written for him include Sally Beamish, Harrison Birtwistle, Jonathan Dove, Thomas Larcher, Nico Muhly, Alec Roth, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Huw Watkins, Ryan Wigglesworth and Hans Zender.
His extensive discography include recent releases: Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with Bernard Haitink and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra on BR Klassik and lieder by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart with Kristian Bezuidenhout for Harmonia Mundi. Other Harmonia Mundi recordings include Handel arias As Steals the Morn with the English Concert (BBC Music Magazine Vocal Award); Schubert cycles with Paul Lewis (Winterreise won the 2010 Gramophone magazine Vocal Award); Schumann Dichterliebe with Kristian Bezuidenhout (2011 Edison Klassiek Award) and Britten’s Serenade, Nocturne and Finzi Dies Natalis with the Britten Sinfonia (ECHO/Klassik 2013 award); The staged St. Matthew Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic and Rattle was awarded the BBC Music Magazine 2013 DVD Award.
Mark was voted 2016 Vocalist of the Year by Musical America and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Kent University in 2014. Mark is Artistic Director of the St. Endellion Summer Music Festival in Cornwall.
Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist who extends his deep musical and intellectual curiosity from the keyboard to classical music lovers in the concert hall and beyond. In addition to his performance schedule, the 34-year old American has spent eight summers at the Marlboro Music Festival, and has written extensively for prestigious media outlets about his own relationships with the composers with whom he shares a stage. A member of the faculty of his alma mater, the Curtis Institute of Music, since 2010, Biss led the school’s first massive open online course (MOOC) to a virtual classroom of 51,000 students last season.
This season, Biss will perform throughout the United States and Europe, including appearances with the Chicago, Danish National, BBC, Stuttgart Radio, and Finnish Radio symphony orchestras; the New York Philharmonic; the Philharmonia and Minnesota orchestras, and the Los Angeles and Netherlands chamber orchestras. Biss will tour Italy and the United States with Mark Padmore and perform with the Belcea Quartet at Wigmore Hall. He will also have recitals in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Denver, and at the Aldeburgh and Rheingau festivals and the International Piano Series in London. Additional performances include the UK premiere at the BBC Proms of the Bernard Rands piano concerto commissioned by Biss, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Riccardo Muti, and an appearance with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3.
Biss has embarked on a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas. The fourth volume will be released in January 2015. Biss’s first Amazon Kindle Single, Beethoven's Shadow, was the first-ever Single written by a classical musician. It spent many weeks on the Kindle Singles bestseller list opposite works by major commercial fiction writers and was the number one music title in the Kindle Store for months. In 2013, Biss partnered with the Curtis Institute of Music and Coursera to offer a MOOC, Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas. The course will relaunch in January 2015 on Coursera in a new format, allowing students to watch all the video lessons at once or progress at their own pace. The second part of the course—on additional Beethoven sonatas—will launch in Spring 2015.
Biss’s Schumann: Under the Influence project was a 30-concert exploration of the composer's role in musical history. Biss and several hand-picked collaborators performed Schumann’s work in juxtaposition with the music of Purcell, Beethoven, Schubert, Berg, Janacek, and Timo Andres. As part of the project, Biss recorded Schumann and Dvořák Piano Quintets with the Elias String Quartet and wrote an Amazon Kindle Single on Schumann, A Pianist Under the Influence.
Throughout his career, Biss has been an advocate for new music. Among the works he has commissioned are Lunaire Variations by David Ludwig, Interlude II by Leon Kirchner, Wonderer by Lewis Spratlan, Three Pieces for Piano and a concerto by Bernard Rands, which he premiered last season with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has also premiered piano quintets by Timothy Andres and William Bolcom and is developing a commissioning project based on Beethoven’s piano concerti.
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, 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. At age 20, Biss made his New York recital debut at the 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts and his New York Philharmonic debut under Kurt Masur.
Biss has been recognized with numerous honors, including the Leonard Bernstein Award presented at the 2005 Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Wolf Trap’s Shouse Debut Artist Award, the Andrew Wolf Memorial Chamber Music 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.