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Performers: April 2009 Archives

Curious Timing


Krystian Zimerman's controversial appearance at Disney Hall

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times

In 1978, an unknown, soft-spoken, 21-year-old Polish pianist appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for its newly appointed music director, Carlo Maria Giulini, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The performances of Chopin's two piano concertos were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Krystian Zimerman's eloquence went far beyond his years, and a major career was launched.

In the '80s, Zimerman became Leonard Bernstein's favorite pianist, the conductor's choice to record the Beethoven and Brahms piano concertos. In 1992, the summer before Esa-Pekka Salonen became music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, he selected Zimerman to perform with the orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.

And now, Sunday, making his Disney Hall debut in a recital sponsored by the Philharmonic, Zimerman, who has become arguably the greatest pianist of his generation, made the surprise and shocking announcement from the stage that in protest to America's military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, he would no longer perform in the United States.

Read more about this at the Los Angeles Times website:

Juilliard String Quartet by Nana Watanabe/SONY Classical

A First Goodbye to a Departing Violinist

By Steve Smith
New York Times

The Juilliard String Quartet, among the most august and respected of American chamber music institutions, began a farewell of sorts before a sizable audience at Alice Tully Hall on Tuesday night. It was no occasion for remorse: the quartet, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006, will go on. But Joel Smirnoff, the first violinist, was making one of two final appearances with the group before departing to become president at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The configuration featured on Tuesday was not the group's original lineup: Mr. Smirnoff, who joined in 1986, became the first violinist when Robert Mann, one of the founding members, retired in 1997. Ronald Copes, the second violinist, joined at that time. Samuel Rhodes, the violist, came aboard in 1969; Joel Krosnick, the cellist, in 1974.

But this particular alignment has had more than a decade to develop its own chemistry, and it showed in occasionally rough-hewn while always authoritative and lively performances. The program opened with Mendelssohn's Quartet in E flat (Op. 12), in honor of that composer's bicentennial.

Read the complete review at the New York Times website: