C1696. GEORGE SZELL Cond. Cleveland Orch., w.Eugene Istomin: Piano Concerto #14 in E-flat, K.449 (Mozart); w.Isaac Stern & Leonard Rose: Double Concerto in a (Brahms); w.Eugene Istomin, Isaac Stern & Leonard Rose: Triple Concerto in C (Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-754, Live Performance, 14 April, 1966, Severance Hall. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Eugene Istomin, the American pianist who was as renowned for his chamber music performances as he was for his individualistic, deeply considered solo playing, was best known for his performances of the German and Viennese classical and romantic repertory; and his recordings of Beethoven - the piano sonatas, the violin sonatas with Isaac Stern and the piano trios with Stern and the cellist Leonard Rose - have remained highly prized for their graceful, fluid phrasing. Over the last 15 years, he was more likely to appear in New York as a soloist in Mozart than in Beethoven, and there too he played in an expansive, full-bodied style, often contributing his own cadenzas.
But if the Viennese repertory commanded most of his attention, Mr. Istomin was also a superb Chopin pianist and an enthusiastic interpreter of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky. Contemporary music was part of his repertory as well: Ned Rorem, Roger Sessions and Henri Dutilleux wrote music for him, and he made a recording of some of Mr. Rorem's songs with the baritone Donald Gramm.
Mr. Istomin maintained an active solo career, and he did so with a flourish. In 1988, for example, when preparing for a tour of 30 cities, he decided that, instead of taking his chances with the pianos he encountered, he would take his own - two of them - as well as a trusted piano technician. He continued touring in this style through the mid-1990s.
Mr. Istomin was on the piano faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and participated in Professional Training Workshops at Carnegie Hall. In 1975 he married Marta Casals, the widow of Pablo Casals.
Mr. Istomin's early training was a balance of Russian and German influences. He was born in New York on Nov. 26, 1925 to Russian immigrants, and when he showed an affinity for the piano at age 6 his parents took him to the Russian pianist Alexander Siloti, who had been a student of Liszt and was a cousin of Rachmaninoff. Siloti oversaw Mr. Istomin's studies from a slight remove: he had his daughter Kyriena provide most of his lessons. But Siloti frequently played duets with the young Mr. Istomin, and arranged for him to play for Rachmaninoff. Siloti also, however, advised Mr. Istomin's parents not to let him begin his performing career while he was still a child.
In addition to his lessons with the Silotis, Mr. Istomin studied at the Mannes College of Music. In 1939, when he was 13, his father decided that it was time for him to study with a teacher in the Germanic tradition so that his training could include the kind of discipline that the more overtly virtuosic Russian approach did not offer. That April, he was accepted at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia as a student of Rudolf Serkin. He also studied there with the Polish pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski.
In 1943 Mr. Istomin won two competitions that led to important public debuts: the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Award, which included a performance with that orchestra, and the Leventritt Award, which included an appearance with the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Istomin played both concerts the same week, performing the Chopin Concerto in f minor in Philadelphia and the Brahms Concerto in B-flat in New York. Those performances were the start of a career that by Mr. Istomin's calculation comprised more than 4,000 concerts around the world.
Mr. Istomin's involvement with chamber music began in the 1950s, when he spent his summers at Pablo Casals' Prades Festival. He made recordings of Beethoven and Schubert piano trios with Casals and the violinist Alexander Schneider in Prades that are now considered classics.
But it was as a member of the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio that he made his most lasting mark on the chamber music world. The three musicians began their association informally, reading through the piano trio repertory privately in the 1950s, for their own amusement. In 1960 they decided to tour together. Recordings followed, including their traversals of the Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Brahms trios, as well as one of the Mozart piano quartets with the violist Milton Katims. They continued performing together, and touring annually, into the 1970s."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 Oct., 2003
"Isaac Stern, a violinist who in his prime was considered one of the great instrumentalists of the 20th century, and who also became an important power broker in the classical music world after he led a successful campaign to save Carnegie Hall from destruction was, in fact, nearly as well-known for his devotion to Carnegie Hall as for his violin playing. He gave more than 200 performances there, the first in 1943. When the Hall was about to be demolished to make way for an office tower in 1960, Mr. Stern helped start a drive among musicians and the musical public that saved the Hall. He was then elected President of the Carnegie Hall Corporation, which runs the hall. ‘Simply for reasons of sentiment and piety, it would be wanton to destroy it’, he said of Carnegie Hall at the time. ‘Think of Tchaikovsky conducting there at the opening, in 1891! Mr. Stern's efforts led to legislation that allowed New York City to buy the hall for $5 million, and when the Carnegie Hall Corporation was established to administer it, Mr. Stern was elected its first president, a position he held until his death..
By 1939 the legendary impresario Sol Hurok was representing Mr. Stern who came to consider Mr. Hurok as a father figure. Within a decade, Mr. Hurok helped Mr. Stern become one of the busiest musicians of his day. In 1949 he played 120 concerts in a seven month tour of the United States, Europe and South America. Still, Mr. Hurok later said he wished he could curb Mr. Stern's desire to be constantly onstage, as well as his penchant for getting involved in causes of various kinds, musical and political.
‘I have been very fortunate in 60 years of performance’, he said in 1995, ‘to have learned what it means to be an eternal student, an eternal optimist - because you hope the next time will always be a little better - and eternally in love with music.''
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 Sept., 2001
“Leonard Rose was best known for his fresh, full-bodied and expressive interpretations of the standard cello repertory - particularly music of the Romantic era. However, he did not limit himself to 19th-century material and made a fascinating recording of Bach's viola da gamba sonatas with the pianist Glenn Gould in the early 1970's. Mr. Rose also excelled in contemporary material: Bloch's ‘Schelomo’ was one of his specialties, and he commissioned - and later recorded - a cello concerto entitled ‘A Song of Orpheus’ from the composer William Schuman.
In addition to his performing career, Mr. Rose was one of the most important cello teachers of his time. He taught at the Juilliard School of Music from 1947 until his death (1984), and at the Curtis Institute from 1952 until 1962. At one point four of the cellists in the Philadelphia Orchestra, five in the New York Philharmonic, six in the Cleveland Orchestra and seven in the Boston Symphony Orchestra had been protégés of Mr. Rose. Erich Leinsdorf used to refer to the Boston cellists as the ‘Rose section’. Other pupils included Lynn Harrell and Yo-Yo Ma.
After one season he left New York to become the principal cellist in the Cleveland Orchestra from 1939 to 1943. He then joined the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, where he served as principal cellist from 1943 until 1951, making his concerto debut at Carnegie Hall in 1944. By 1949, Mr. Rose had been the soloist with the Philharmonic 18 times, playing works by Schumann, Dvorák and Lalo, among others. He made his last appearance with the Philharmonic at the 1951 Edinburgh Festival, and then left to pursue a successful solo career.
During the 1950s Mr. Rose began to play regularly with Mr. Stern and Mr. Istomin, initially only for personal enjoyment. In 1961, they decided to form a professional chamber-music trio. In the succeeding decade the Rose-Stern- Istomin trio made many recordings and gave concerts throughout the world, touring together for a part of every year. In 1970 - the Beethoven bicentennial year - the trio gave 50 concerts of the composer's music in the United States, Brazil, England, Ireland, Switzerland, France and Israel."
- Tim Page - THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 Nov., 1984
"It must be remembered that when George Szell came to prominence in the United States in the mid 1940s (and his mid-forties) he was a highly respected conductor and musician in Europe. He had a very solid grip on his repertoire which soon expanded to new works which he was debuting and championing. However, all that most music lovers around the world today know about Szell’s artistry they have divined from the recordings made by Columbia in Cleveland from the late 1940s on. In an interview with Szell as an intermission feature in one of the weekly broadcast concerts he stated that Columbia allowed him to record items that he requested only if they were not in conflict with Ormandy or Bernstein. Those he did make revealed meticulously prepared performances which could be misinterpreted as being somewhat objective. The lean balances of those LPs and then CDs only reinforced that impression."
- Bruce Surtees