Family loss has delayed this posting, but the news is exhilarating: after months of negotiations, delicate engineering processes, and photographic restorations, Romeo Records has issued a two-CD album reproducing the unforgettable evening in 1980 when Nadia Reisenberg and the Juilliard String Quartet gave a faculty recital at The Juilliard School. At this point, I don’t remember why or how the program evolved as it did. Unlike most such events, where a guest artist plays one, or at most two pieces, this was clearly designed as the pianist’s chamber evening, with participation in every work, and the large poster on Broadway displaying her name in letters twice the size of her equally distinguished colleagues.
Five days earlier, when Nadia had been a guest on the Juilliard Quartet’s series at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Mendelssonhn Trio and the Faure Quartet were separated by the Juilliard’s performance of Beethoven’s Opus 18 #6. Obviously, they could have offered the same program at the School, but replacing the Beethoven was one of Nadia’s favorite cello sonatas, the Rachmaninoff, so I can only surmise that the string players wanted to make this a kind of valedictory evening for their senior and deeply respected partner (Nadia was then three months away from her 76th birthday). In a way, her remarkable achievement made an ideal career bookend to the marathon series that had sparked her international career four decades earlier: the weekly radio broadcasts (with Alfred Wallenstein conducting) of all 27 Mozart Piano Concertos.
To fill the remaining time on the album, I was able to add several works from Nadia’s Westminster LPs that have not yet been reissued on CD: Moussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and three short pieces from Rachmaninoff’s Opus 10.
I’m deeply indebted to the many folks who made this project possible, among them my son, Steve J. Sherman, who contrbuted several photographs to the notes and designed the album cover; Robert Taibbi who recorded the concert in 1980, and Seth B. Winner, who saw to the digital reprocessing of the original tapes; the production team of Russ Paladino and Ron Mannarino. Most of all, I’m grateful to the superb Juilliard players — violinists Robert Mann and Earl Carlyss, violist Samuel Rhodes and cellist Joel Krosnick — not only for their splendid performances, but their enthusiastic endorsement of the project. As Earl wrote me, “I am thrilled that you are bringing out these performances featuring your mother. What a treasure and inspiration she has been to us all.”
The two-CD set may be purchased at various internet sites, among them
- The fifth annual Nadia Reisenberg Young Artists Series returned this past fall to the Ossining Public Library, with superb recitals by Chelsea Wang (October 7), Jennifer Nicole Campbell (November 11) and Mackenzie Melemed (December 2). All were laureates of the 2012 New York Piano Competition, held under the auspicies of the Stecher and Horowitz Foundation. Another cycle of concerts at the Library will be forthcoming in the fall of 2013.
- New Yorkers will likely recall the critic and broadcaster Gary Lemco from his many appearances on WQXR’s popular “First Hearing” series; turns out he’s moved to California, the west coast, where he has a regular show every Tuesday from 8 to 10 pm on Stanford University’s 90.1 FM KZSU. “I already used one of the Mozart 2-Piano Sonatas with Artur Balsam and Mme. Reisenberg,” he writes, “had the Brahms E-flat Sonata (with Benny Goodman) transcribed to CD, and am planning a full two-hour Reisenberg tribute very soon.” You can hear Gary’s programs via the internet at www.kzsulive.stanford.edu
- Not too much new to report on the theremin front, but the featured exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix has been renewed for another year, and we continue to get happy reports about the “Music in and On the Air” CD, derived from a WQXR broadcast including Clara Rockmore performances with Nadia Reisenberg, Erick Friedman, and members of the Violincello Society.
- The fine thereminist Peter Pringle alerted us that Samantha Emanuel has posted a video of her dancing to Clara’s theremin performance of Saint-Saens’ “The Swan,” which Peter intriguiingly describes as “a curious combination of the classical piece that Fokine created for Anna Pavlova in 1905, and a belly dance.”
- Finally, though I suspect most visitors to this site know this already, a complete inventory of Clara Rockmore’s personal archive at the University Maryland can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/cvc7t8m
Posted by Bob Sherman, 1/25/13