Isabelle Faust, violin; Alexander Melnikov, piano
Thursday, January 23, 2014
7:30 pm, Mahaney Center for the Arts, Concert Hall
Isabelle Faust, violin
Alexander Melnikov, piano
At the 2010 Gramophone Awards, violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov were praised for “a searching and very poetic collection of Beethoven’s sonatas” upon winning the chamber music category. The Guardian wrote, “[they] are ideal partners, wrestling with the musical dialogue with poise, imagination and freshness.” While in Middlebury, the duo performs two Beethoven sonatas, two Weber sonatas, and Schubert’s Fantasy in C Major. Associate Professor of Music Larry Hamberlin offers a pre-concert lecture at 6:45 pm in Room 221. Sponsored by the Performing Arts Series.
Reserved Seating. Tickets: $25/20/6. Visit the Box Office for details>>
BEETHOVEN Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 12, No. 3
WEBER Sonata in d minor, Op. 10, No.3
BEETHOVEN Sonata in G Major, Op. 96
WEBER Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 10, No. 4
SCHUBERT Fantasy in C Major, Op. 159 (D.934)
Isabelle Faust adopts a perspective on music in which ever-new experiences and discoveries are the principal focus. Having founded a string quartet when just eleven, her early chamber music experiences imbued in her a fundamental belief that performing is a process of giving and taking, in which listening is just as important as expressing your own personality.
Victory at the 1987 Leopold Mozart Competition, when she was just 15, brought with it the prospect of a solo career. However, the guiding principles instilled in her as a chamber musician remained strong. In Christoph Poppen, the long-time first violinist of the Cherubini Quartet, Faust found a teacher who shared and fostered these musical convictions. Whether performing sonatas or concertos, Faust constantly sought dialogue and the exchange of musical ideas. After winning the 1993 Paganini Competition, she moved to France, where she grew to love the French repertoire, particularly the music of Fauré and Debussy. Here she came to international attention with her first recording - sonatas by Bartók, Szymanowski and Janácek - and gradually refined her command of the most important works in the violin repertoire.
In 2003, Faust released her first recording of a major Romantic work for orchestra, the Dvorák Violin Concerto. Having first performed the concerto at the age of 15 under Yehudi Menuhin, the work has remained a mainstay of her repertoire. Her 2007 release of the Beethoven violin concerto also reflects her immersion in period performance practice - not interpreted dogmatically but used as a challenge and incentive to re-assess the substance of every note, in order to comprehend its purpose and meaning. For Faust, the ultimate importance of musical dialogue necessitates establishing a common language between performers, enabling artists to perform a Mozart concerto with an ensemble such as Concerto Köln as convincingly as with a large symphony orchestra. It is precisely this willingness to open herself up to different musical idioms that has made Isabelle Faust a highly sought-after performer of contemporary music. The list of composers whose works she has premiered extends from Olivier Messiaen to Werner Egk and Jörg Widmann. She is a fervent proponent of music by György Ligeti, Morton Feldman, Luigi Nono and Giacinto Scelsi, as well as of forgotten works, such as André Jolivet’s violin concerto. In 2009 she premiered works dedicated to her by composers Thomas Larcher and Michael Jarrell.
Faust can be heard with her duet partner, the pianist Alexander Melnikov, in searching renditions of the chamber music repertoire in recordings for harmonia mundi. For their recording of the complete Beethoven sonatas they received the “ECHO Klassik Award” and the “Gramophone Award” among others. The recording was nominated for the “Grammy”. Her latest solo recording of the Partitas and Sonatas by J. S. Bach was decorated with the “Diapason d’or de l’année 2010” among others. Increasing numbers of orchestras and conductors have come to appreciate Faust’s artistry in recent years: Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit, Daniel Harding, Heinz Holliger, Mariss Jansons, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Orchestras and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra are a few examples of the fruitful artistic partnerships that have emerged in recent years. These musicians and ensembles have all come to appreciate Faust’s artistry: rather than merely mastering her instrument and its repertoire, experiencing and deeply exploring music lies at the heart of her work.
Isabelle Faust performs on the 1704 “Sleeping Beauty” Stradivarius on loan to her from Germany’s L-Bank Baden-Württemberg.
Alexander Melnikov, born in Moscow in 1973, performed Rachmaninov's First Piano Concerto at the age of 12 and was heavily influenced by Sviatoslav Richter. Melnikov's involvement with historically informed performance began at 18; today, it continues to play an important role in his repertoire. In addition to performances on the fortepiano, Melnikov shares the stage with Andreas Staier in a special collaboration featuring Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues (Alexander Melnikov - piano) and J.S. Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier (Andreas Staier - harpsichord).
Melnikov's recording of the Shostakovich cycle, released in 2010 with harmonia mundi, was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Award 2011 in the instrumental category, "Choc de classica" for the best recording in 2010, and the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik 2010. It was also named by the BBC Music Magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Recordings of All Time." Melnikov has brought the cycle to Vienna, Berlin, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Tokyo and Nagoya.
Melnikov's association with the label harmonia mundi arose through his regular recital partner, violinist Isabelle Faust, and in 2010 their complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano won both Germany's ECHO Klassik prize and a Gramophone Award. This CD, which has become a reference recording of this repertoire, was also nominated for the Grammy. Melnikov has recorded works by Rachmaninov and Scriabin, among others, for harmonia mundi as well; his highly-anticipated recording of Shostakovich's Piano Concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Teodor Currentzis was released in February 2012 to critical acclaim.
Chamber music provides an essential complement to Melnikov's activities. In addition to Isabelle Faust, his colleagues include cellists Alexander Rudin and Jean-Guihen Queyras, as well as baritone Georg Nigl. He also performs as a member of a wind quintet featuring Teunis van der Zwart (horn), Marcel Ponseele (oboe), Lorenzo Coppola (clarinet) and Javier Zafra (bassoon).
As a recitalist, Melnikov has appeared in halls such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet and London's Wigmore Hall.
As a soloist, he has performed with orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchestra, NDR Sinfonieorchester, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, HR-Sinfonieorchester, BBC Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, NHK Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic and Orquestra Sinfónica de Madrid, under conductors including Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Paavo Järvi, Teodor Currentzis and Alexander Vedernikov.
Highlights in the 2012/13 season include orchestral engagements with the Münchner Philharmoniker, SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden/Freiburg, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and Tapiola Sinfonietta. In addition to solo and chamber music recitals at Berlin's Konzerthaus, Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw, Vienna's Mozarthaus, London's Wigmore Hall and The Philip's Collection in Washington, DC, Melnikov will be making appearances at festivals such as the International Chopin Music Festival in Warsaw, Jerusalem Chamber Music Festival, Niedersächsische Musiktage in Germany, Mozartwoche in Salzburg, Zaubersee Festival in Lucerne, Hindsgavl Festival and Eilat Festival.
"[Faust's] sound has passion, grit and electricity but also a disarming warmth and sweetness that can unveil the music’s hidden strains of lyricism ..."
--The New York Times
"Melnikov’s playing has wonderful colour and imagination ... His pianissimi are astonishing, with long, meticulously nuanced passages often remaining very, very quiet, while, in the sculpted fugues, the intensification of volume runs to a purposeful plan ... Everything is testament to reflection and skill, yet the pianist is not lecturing, but laughing, dreaming, lamenting and dancing."--Jan Brachmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung