Telluride Musicfest: Brahms & Romanticism

Please scroll down to bottom of story to eavesdrop on my interview with violinist Maria Bachmann of the Trio Solisti. Maria, a bravura performer is also artistic director of the upcoming Telluride Musicfest. 

Maria Bachmann & the Trio Solisti, the heart of Telluride Musicfest

Maria Bachmann & the Trio Solisti, the heart of Telluride Musicfest

Last year was all about “From Russia With Love,” the title shamelessly borrowed from the second James Bond movie featuring Sean Connery as the suave trained killer. The cast of characters were Russian superstars: Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Mussorgsky, Arensky, Lyapunov. Beethoven was also on the program. (If you have to ask, you should have been there.)

Over the years, now 13 to be exact, Telluride Musicfests artistic director, violinist Maria Bachmann, has explored a variety of colorful themes: Vienna to Budapest featuring the music of Gustav Mahler, Bela Bartok, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn: Vive La France and the music of Franz Liszt, Claude Debussy, Aaron Copeland and Camille Saint-Saens; Celebrating Felix Mendelssohn and Philip Glass, etc.

This year, for the 2015 Telluride Musicfest, Maria chose to celebrate “Brahms and Romanticism” in a series of concerts that begins Wednesday, June 24, and continues on Sunday, June 28, Thursday, July 2, and Sunday, July 5.

“We are so glad to be back in Telluride playing and enjoying wonderful music as the composers intended, surrounded by friends and music lovers!  We all feel we have come home,” said Maria, adding, “What you will hear at our concerts are the pieces we most enjoy playing.”

Brahms?

Not for the faint of heart – or talent.

Insiders know chamber musicians take their measure with Brahms: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. What’s required are musicians who are at once conservative and exacting – and revolutionary.

Done right, Brahms is all about Expressionistic intensity and spot on musicianship.

And, as fans of Telluride Musicfest know, there is no doubt Maria, her Trio Solisti –  Alexis Pia Gerlach on cello and Adam Neiman on piano – and their guests – this year, Hsin-Yun Huang, viola; Edward Arron, cello; Jesse Mills, violin; Kathryn Lockwood, viola – will do it right.

Maria Bachmann, violinist and muse, Telluride Musicfest

Maria Bachmann, violinist and muse, Telluride Musicfest

Critics have described the Trio as “three of the most sought after artists of their generation.”

The most exciting piano trio in America,” raved The New Yorker.

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

In Fall 2015, the Trio returns to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in a three-concert series featuring the complete piano chamber music of Brahms.

“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….,” said a Palm Beach music critic.

In the past six months, the Trio Solisti released two new CDs, the first, Trios for Piano, Violin and Piano by Ravel and Chausson and the New York Times, for one, raved:

“The insight and intelligence of Trio Solisti’s account of Ravel’s often-played yet very challenging Trio in A minor (1914) comes through at the start of the first movement. There is plenty of milky Impressionist colorings and fluidity. But the way these impressive musicians (the violinist Maria Bachmann, the cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach, the pianist Adam Neiman) shape the elusive main theme and tease out inner details, taking a restrained tempo, is startlingly fresh and fascinating. Fear not, though, there is plenty of fire and excitement as the piece continues in this standout recording, which also offers the seldom-heard Chausson Trio in G minor, an impetuous, teeming 1881 piece. Even the magisterial slow movement is restless and surging. (Tommasini)

The second, not yet reviewed, was recently released on Adam Neiman’s new label, Aeolian Classics: French Quartets, featuring Faure’s Piano Quartet, Op. 45 and Saint-Saens Piano Quartet, Op. 41.

In the hands of this talented group (and friends) there is nothing fusty or old about chamber music, Brahms or otherwise. Their sounds always comes across with the instant zing of pop, but also offers up the same visceral appeal of great jazz. Overall, Musicfest performances never fails to intensify the present.

At Telluride Musicfest, old is cool.

Old is in.

Note: In Fall 2015, Trio Solisti returns to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to perform the complete piano chamber music of Brahms. Details attached:

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Program:

June 24, 2015

Trio Solisti

Hsin-Yun Huang, viola

Schubert Trio in B-flat major, D. 28 “Sonatensatz”

Rachmaninoff Trio No. 2 in D major, Op. 9

Brahms Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor, Op. 60

June 25

Rough cut screening of Josh Aronson’s film, “Talent Has Hunger,”  7:30 p.m., Hotel Madeline, $10*****

June 28, 2015

Trio Solisti

Hsin-Yun Huang, viola

Bach, Partita #3 in A major for viola solo

Beethoven Trio in D major, Op. 70, No. 1 “Ghost”

Brahms Piano Quartet in A major, Op. 26

July 2, 1015

Trio Solisti

Jesse Mills, violin

Kathryn Lockwood, viola

Edward Arron, cello

Dohnanyi String Trio in C major, Op. 10 “Serenade”

Mozart Piano Quartet in E flat major, K. 493

Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34

July 5, 2015

Trio Solisti

Jesse Mills, violin

Kathryn Lockwood, viola

Edward Arron, cello

Turina Piano Quartet in A minor, Op. 67

Brahms Trio No. 2 in C major, Op. 87

Schumann Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to my conversation with Maria Bachmann.

***** More about “Talent Has Hunger,”a world premiere in Telluride:

Lev Mamuya plays on FROM THE TOP in Josh Aronson’s "Making of an Artist"

Josh shoots a Guarnius cello

“Talent Has Hunger” is a film about the unique power of music to enhance the lives of people from childhood through the last days of life. Filmed over seven years, the story focuses on the challenges of teaching gifted young people the intricacies of playing the cello, but through the words and action of master cello teacher Paul Katz, the message in the very marrow of the film is what a powerful enhancement to life music can be.

Talent Has Hunger” offers a remarkable front row seat in the lives of students (from 11-18, at the start). The viewer learns over time what it actually takes, technically and emotionally, to make music with an instrument. And that  the connection with music enhances students’ ability to concentrate and to learn. By the end of the film, the viewer sees that whether the student ends up performing, teaching or becoming doctors, lawyers or firemen, their early study of music builds self-esteem and a cultural and aesthetic appreciation that will be indelible throughout their lives.

Lev Mamuya plays on FROM THE TOP in Josh Aronson’s "Making of an Artist"

Lev Mamuya plays on FROM THE TOP in Josh Aronson’s “Making of an Artist”

This message will be clear through interviews with the students, with Paul Katz and with renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma, who speaks eloquently about the benefit to society as a whole when more people are literate in the arts and specifically have at least a childhood experience of learning to play an instrument. At a time when 95% of the school systems in America have cut their budget for music education, this important message is timely.

Plato said that the single most important aspect of every child’s education is music. This is something we seem to have forgotten and it is woven into the fabric of “Talent Has Hunger.”

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