C1759. KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. Detroit S.O.: Oberon - Overture (von Weber); 'The Great' Symphony #9 in C (Schubert); w.HORACIO GUTIERREZ: Piano Concerto in a (Schumann). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-885, Live Performance, 28 July, 1979, Meadow Brook Music Festival. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“In a Moscow hotel room late one night in 1970, the young pianist Horacio Gutierrez was awakened by a telephone call from an American he had never met. '’Congratulations’, the man began. That was how Mr. Gutierrez learned he had won the silver medal at the Fourth International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition. He had gone to bed without waiting for the judges' decision.
In the years since then, Mr. Gutierrez has concentrated on taming his phenomenal piano technique. He seems always to have had the power to deliver brash and percussive sounds at times, but not always the right times.
Mr. Gutierrez said recently. ‘As a young interpreter, I feel that it's wrong when people think that by doing the ‘hackneyed' repertoire you are taking the easy way out. I'm so grateful that Serkin played Beethoven over and over because I learned from it. I never learned from one reading of it. I learned from the dedication that he put into those pieces. An actor can do a wonderful role in a wonderful Neil Simon comedy and be very successful and win a Tony, but when you do King Lear or Hamlet or Othello it's a real challenge. I am just trying to measure up to these works.''
Measuring up may not have been easy, but Mr. Gutierrez has learned to make it look easy. After [a] Carnegie Hall recital Allen Hughes wrote in THE TIMES ’so skillful is Mr. Gutierrez's command that he can ripple through the fastest of scales and toss off intricate filigrees without breaking the intended dynamic pattern and without loss of tone quality’.
Mr. Gutierrez made his New York recital debut in 1972 and his New York orchestra debut in 1977 with Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra, with which he had already played in Cleveland, at the Blossom Festival, in Mexico City and at the Hollywood Bowl.
This concentration of appearances has happened even though Mr. Gutierrez carries a somewhat smaller repertory than many pianists his age - about five concertos at any given time and little contemporary music. He has structured his workload this way in order to focus on the refinements he considers so important. ’I've had opportunities to play very important engagements at Carnegie Hall with important orchestras’, he said, ‘and I turned them down.
Until…he finally worked it out to his liking, he was not satisfied with his pedaling in Ravel's ‘Gaspard de la Nuit’ - a piece he first learned in 1973….’I've finally come to terms with it’, he said. After a pause he took that back, sort of. ‘Well, it's certainly better than it was before’.
Mr. Gutierrez is one of today's two prominent Cuban-born virtuosos - Jorge Bolet is the other - and he made his orchestral debut in Cuba at the age of 11. He was born in Havana in 1948 and became an American citizen when he was 19, but the family's roots are in Spain….At the age of five he began studying with one of Cuba's foremost teachers, Cesar Perez Sentenat, who had studied in Paris with the pianist Joaquin Nin. After Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, Sentenat declared that the young Gutierrez should be sent abroad to continue his studies. Not to the United States, Sentenat said, but to Czechoslovakia, one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Castro's Communist regime….So, in 1961, his father arranged for the family's escape - first to Colombia and then to Miami. The following year, they moved to Los Angeles, where the budding pianist studied with Sergei Tarnowsky, a teacher of Vladimir Horowitz.
In 1972, a month after his New York debut, Mr. Gutierrez married Patricia Asher, a pianist and Juilliard classmate. They had first met at Aspen where, she says, he barged into her practice room to run through the last couple of lines of the Beethoven Piano Concerto #4 in G Major. He was on his way to a master class with Adele Marcus. He later worked extensively with American pianist William Masselos, a pupil of Carl Friedberg, who himself had studied with Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.
‘My wife is my sanity’, Mr. Gutierrez said. ‘She's the one who, when I think the world is coming to an end, says 'But what will we have for dinner?' Mr. Gutierrez is a man who sometimes has little patience with himself, but he has less patience when he is on tour in Spanish speaking countries and a more relaxed routine interferes with his schedule. ‘I'm kind of used to Latin ways but they drive me insane’, he said. ‘In Caracas one time they couldn't find the light switch so they canceled the rehearsal’. His wife added: ‘And it was their theater’.”
- James Barron, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 April, 1982
“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