Klaus Tennstedt, Vol. XVI;  Peter Serkin, Silverstein & Eskin - Tanglewood  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-770)
Item# C1682
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Klaus Tennstedt, Vol. XVI;  Peter Serkin, Silverstein & Eskin - Tanglewood  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-770)
C1682. KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. Boston Symphony Orchestra: 'Eroica' Symphony #3 in E-flat; w.Peter Serkin, Joseph Silverstein & Jules Eskin: Triple Concerto in C (both Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-770, Live Performance, 30 July, 1977, Tanglewood. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


"Joseph Silverstein, a conductor and violinist who was concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 22 years, shaped the Boston Symphony’s distinctive sound for two decades, he considered himself more a role model than a leader of that orchestra or a star virtuoso. Critics said that as a violinist he was as proficient at performing solos in orchestral works as he was graceful in major concertos. He also brought an easy, authoritative style to bear as an eloquent soloist, chamber musician, a respected teacher and a noted conductor. Long a prominent figure in Boston’s musical culture, he moved across the country to serve as the music director of the Utah Symphony Orchestra from 1983 to 1998.

He graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1950 and, after brief stays in Houston, Philadelphia and Denver, joined the Boston Symphony as its youngest player in 1955. Even from the back desks of the orchestra, his talent was immediately audible. He played a Saint-Saëns concerto in a minor concert in 1956, but a greater honor came in 1959, when the conductor Charles Munch asked him to be the soloist for a subscription concert. It was a performance that, THE BOSTON GLOBE said, ‘did him enormous credit’. In a 1960 review in THE NEW YORK TIMES, John Briggs said of Mr. Silverstein, ‘His tone is warm, ingratiating, and, if not overpowering for fire and brilliance, silk-smooth and commendably free from scrape’.

Having won the prestigious Naumburg Award in 1960 at 28, he became the ninth concertmaster in the Boston Symphony’s history two years later. He would work with three separate music directors, Erich Leinsdorf, William Steinberg and Seiji Ozawa, and help found the Boston Symphony Chamber Players in 1964.

An influential teacher, whose students still populate the ranks of several major orchestras, Mr. Silverstein taught at Yale and Boston University, the New England Conservatory and what is now the Tanglewood Music Center, where he was chairman of the faculty.”

- David Allen, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27 Nov., 2015

“Jules Eskin, the principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for more than half a century and among the longest-serving orchestral musicians in the United States, and a distinguished chamber-music career with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players which he helped found in 1964, performed in thousands of orchestral programs over 53 years with the Boston Symphony.

Mr. Eskin’s break came as a winner of the prestigious Naumburg Award in 1954, which led to a debut at Town Hall in New York. Reviewing that performance, THE NEW YORK TIMES said that he ‘immediately disclosed his serious, thoroughly musical approach to his art’. A direct result was his first prominent post: principal cellist of the New York City Opera’s orchestra. While mostly playing in the pit for opera and ballet, he also performed on Broadway and on recordings, notably Puccini’s LA BOHEME, conducted by Thomas Beecham, and the original cast album of Leonard Bernstein’s CANDIDE.

Mr. Eskin remained in New York until 1961, when George Szell, the music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, invited him to become its principal cellist. One lasting document from his time in Cleveland, still venerated for its delicate poignancy, was his solo turn in a recording of Brahms’s Piano Concerto #2, with Leon Fleisher at the keyboard. Boston called in 1964, as the orchestra was being reshaped during the tenure of Erich Leinsdorf. On Mr. Eskin’s debut as a soloist at Symphony Hall, in Brahms’ Double Concerto with Joseph Silverstein on violin, a critic for THE BOSTON GLOBE praised a style that ‘was in its quiet way playing of impressively sensitive responsiveness and intelligence’.

He remained a presence for five music directors as principal cellist until his death. Reviews consistently noted the subtlety, sincerity and nobility of his playing. Even when Mr. Eskin was faced with the challenging Barber Cello Concerto, the critic Richard Dyer wrote in 1998 that he made ‘extravagant writing seem natural’.”

- David Allen, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 Nov., 2016

“Peter Serkin, a pianist admired for his insightful interpretations, technically pristine performances and tenacious commitment to contemporary music, was descended from storied musical lineages on both sides of his family. His father was the eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin; his maternal grandfather was the influential conductor and violinist Adolf Busch, whose musical forebears went back generations. By 12, Peter Serkin was performing prominently in public, and he soon seemed poised to continue the legacy of his father, who was known for authoritative accounts of the central European repertory. His first two recordings, made for the RCA label when he was 18, confirmed this impression. One was a buoyant, lucid and probing account of Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations that many critics compared favorably to Glenn Gould’s influential version; the other was a glowing, preternaturally mature account of Schubert’s spacious late Sonata in G, Op. 78. Yet, though he was proud of his heritage, Mr. Serkin found it a burden. Like many who came of age in the 1960s, he questioned the establishment, both in society at large and within classical music. He resisted a traditional career trajectory and at 21 stopped performing, going for months without even playing the piano. Throughout his career, he presented recital programs that juxtaposed the old and the new: 12-tone scores and Mozart sonatas; thorny pieces by the mid-20th-century German composer Stefan Wolpe and polyphonic works from the Renaissance. Admirers of his playing appreciated how he drew out allusions to music’s past in contemporary scores, while conveying the radical elements of old music.

Reviewing Mr. Serkin’s 1985 recording of Mr. Lieberson’s Piano Concerto #1, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa, the critic Tim Page wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES that Mr. Serkin seemed to him ‘America’s pre-eminent young pianist - his intelligence and perceptivity invariably take the listener to the heart of the music’. Rudolf Serkin acknowledged that he had not given his son much encouragement early on. ‘I doubted he was talented’, he said in a 1980 NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE profile of his son. ‘He was so full of tension when he played; I didn’t realize that was his real gift’. He said that having been compelled by his own father to be a musician, he ‘was reluctant to push Peter’.”

Though Mr. Serkin never completely shook off the early perception of him as ‘the counterculture’s reluctant envoy to the straight concert world’, as the TIMES critic Donal Henahan called him in an admiring 1973 profile, over time he reconciled to the ways, even the dress protocols, of that classical world and developed productive associations with artists like the Guarneri String Quartet, the mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (who had married Peter Lieberson) and the conductors Seiji Ozawa, Herbert Blomstedt, Robert Shaw and Pierre Boulez.

‘Maybe I’ll pay some kind of price in my career, but I don’t even think about it. I’d rather deal with something I believe in’.”

- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 1 Feb., 2020

“Because he spent the beginning of his career in East Germany, Klaus Tennstedt was virtually unknown in the West until he was in his late 40s. But his international career took off after he left East Germany in 1971. From the time he made his first appearances in North America, with the Toronto and Boston Symphony Orchestras in 1974, he was regarded as an uncommonly probing, expressive conductor of works from the mainstream Romantic repertory.

Mr. Tennstedt was born in Merseburg, Germany, on 6 June, 1926. When he was 15, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied violin, piano and music theory. He also studied in Dresden during World War II, and he told one interviewer that after the firebombing of Dresden in 1944, he was in the fire brigade and assigned to dig bodies out of the rubble.

In 1948 he was appointed concertmaster of the Halle Municipal Theater Orchestra, where his father was a violinist. Four years later he began conducting the Orchestra, and he soon became its music director. In 1958, he became music director of the Dresden Opera and in 1962 he took over the Schwerin State Orchestra and the Schwerin State Theater. During the 1960s, Mr. Tennstedt had an active touring schedule in East Germany, and was a frequent guest of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He also performed in the Soviet Union and in Czechoslovakia. When preparing for a tour in 1971, Mr. Tennstedt found that his passport had been mistakenly stamped with an exit visa for the West. He left East Germany for Sweden, announced his intention not to return, and persuaded the East German Government to allow his wife to join him. In Sweden, he became the director of the Stora Theater in Goteborg and the conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm. In 1972, he became director of the Kiel Opera in West Germany.

Mr. Tennstedt's first break in North America occurred after the death of Karel Ancerl, the director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. When the Orchestra's managing director, Walter Homburger, went to Europe in search of a replacement, he read some reviews of Mr. Tennstedt's work in Kiel. After hearing him conduct Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, he hired him for a series of Toronto concerts in May 1974. He made his Boston Symphony debut later that year. [This outstanding performance, described as a 'once in a lifetime' event, in which Tennstedt gave the Boston audience and radio listeners a positively electrifying account of Bruckner's 8th, is still talked about in Boston to this day! After rehearsing, the Orchestra spontaneously broke into applause during a coffee break.]

Mr. Tennstedt became principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic in 1977, served as principal guest conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1982, and returned to the London Philharmonic as its music director from 1983 to 1987. After he relinquished the post, he became the Orchestra's conductor laureate.”

- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13 Jan., 1998