Gerard Schwarz is an exemplary musician. He was a hotshot trumpeter — one of the best in the world. Then he became a leading conductor. For many years, he led the Seattle Symphony, and also the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. He has led other institutions too. Now he is going to the Palm Beach Symphony. I joke that this is a “hardship post.”
The Georgian pianist Nicolas Namoradze, the winner of the 2018 Honens International Piano Competition in Calgary, has already impressed pianists of rare knowledge and experience. Like the two Honens winners before him (Pavel Kolesnikov in 2012 and Luca Buratto in 2015), Namoradze will make his debut recording for Hyperion.
Mahan Esfahani was nine when he first heard a harpsichord. He and his parents were visiting Iran, the country where he was born, and which his family had left for the US five years before. “An uncle gave me a bunch of cassettes,” he says. “One was of Karl Richter [the German conductor and harpsichordist] playing Bach. Well, I listened to it, and I thought: ‘This is what I’ve got to do.’ I don’t mean in terms of a career. I just thought my life would be well spent in the company of this instrument. I thought I would get a profession, which is what every Iranian parent wants for their child, and that – once I was a doctor or lawyer – I’d be able to buy a harpsichord, and play at home.”
Having been appointed to the faculty of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami last month, conductor Gerard Schwarz is planting further roots into the Florida sands by accepting the post of music director of the Palm Beach Symphony. He starts next season, succeeding Ramón Tebar, who held the job for eight years.
ORPHEUS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA at the 92nd Street Y (May 8, 7:30 p.m.). The harpsichordist de nos jours Mahan Esfahani is the soloist in two relatively recent concertos, by Manuel de Falla and Bohuslav Martinu. Also on the bill are two arrangements for nonet, one of Mozart’s Wind Quintet by Jean Françaix, and another of Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche” by Brett Dean.
When violinist Anne Akiko Meyers started getting the music for a new violin concerto that she had commissioned from composer Adam Schoenberg, she was in for a rather major surprise.
"The first movement was all done in scordatura, which was a first for me," said Meyers. In other words, Schoenberg's music required that she tune one of the strings of her famous 1741 "Vieuxtemps” Guarneri del Gesù down an entire step. Specifically, the G string would be tuned down to an F. "I thought, what am I supposed to do with this? What happens? Do you read the music the same way? Or do I need a crash course on how to play the violin in the key of F, with an F string?"