Telluride Musicfest: “From Russia With Love”

Telluride Musicfest: “From Russia With Love”

Besides nesting dolls, samovars, borscht, big fur hats, Nureyev, Baryshnikov, vodka – and Telluride local Gus Kenworthy taking silver in the country’s recent Olympics – we may have Russia to thank – ok, indirectly – for Telluride Musicfest.

Musicfest 2014 Poster copy

When the revolution failed, the “Red Menace” (a synonym for “Russia” during the Cold War) tightened its noose on Hungary and the Bachmann family fled to America with nothing. Speaking no English, Tibor Bachmann, a PhD professor of music, initially got by teaching piano; Eva, a nurse, found work immediately. Over the years, the couple did whatever it took to make a better life for their children in their adopted country. Grit and sacrifice paid off: son Peter became a dean of math and sciences at a college outside Philadelphia; daughter Maria became a world-renowned violinist, hailed by The New York Times as a performer “of soul and patrician refinement.”

Twelve years ago, Anne and Vincent Mai and award-winning documentary filmmaker Josh Aronson founded Telluride Musicfest and Maria Bachmann became the event’s artistic director.

Musicfest is a series of concerts – this season, June 25, June 29, July 2 and July 6 – meant to offer a growing number of friends and fans a sampling of the styles, colors, textures and bravura effects found in the chamber music literature. At the heart of this aural elixir is the Trio Solisti – Bachmann on violin; Alexis Pia Gerlach on cello and Adam Neiman on piano – described by The New Yorker as “the most exciting piano trio in America.”

Trio Solisti has given critically acclaimed performances at Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater; Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Town Hall, New York City; La Jolla’s Revelle Series; Seattle’s Meany Hall; Caramoor and Moab Festivals; Tuscany’s Sun Festival.

The Trio has appeared on the nationally broadcast radio show “St. Paul Sunday,” and been featured by NPR’s “Performance Today” in live performances from around the United States.The Morgan Library in New York City has presented the group in concert series and they are in residence at Adelphi University in New York.

Following a recent concert, one critic summed up the experience Telluride audiences of Musicfest have enjoyed for years (though Neiman is a relatively recent addition):

“That interplay showed the trio at its finest. Its ensemble work is absolutely precise, its technique virtuosic, its attention to expression amazing. Every note counts, every sound is shaped for maximum effect. They conveyed a real sense of spontaneity — at times Bachmann and Gerlach traded exclamations like old friends exchanging really juicy gossip, while Neiman held the main material….,” a Palm Beach music critic.

This year’s Musicfest features the Trio Solisti and friends, outstanding musicians based in New York City, including Hsin-Yun Huang, viola; Joana Genova, violin; Toby Appel, viola; Edward Arron, cello; Kathryn Lockwood, viola.

In the hands of this talented group, chamber music offers the instant zing of pop and the visceral appeal of jazz. Overall, Musicfest performances seem to intensify the present.

Despite the relatively recent pivoting from the “reset” (in 2012) of U.S. relations with Russia, or perhaps in an oblique attempt at musical diplomacy to mitigate the chill in the air, Bachmann’s theme for Musicfest’s 2014 season is “From Russia With Love,” the title obviously borrowed from the second James Bond movie featuring Sean Connery as the suave trained killer. Her cast of characters includes Russian superstars Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Arensky, Lyapunov. But Beethoven is also on the program.

Why Beethoven? Was it because the famous composer ultimately bucked the Classical tide and helped music flow in a new direction, one in which emotion, courage and undressed beauty defined the sound?

Click the “play” button and listen to my chat with Maria Bachmann to find out that and more…

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.