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Yesterday I watched a video on the VRS YouTube channel featuring pianist Shai Wosner playing the concluding portion of Schumann’s “Carnaval”. I enjoyed it very much. As the video concluded, another video on the YouTube sidebar caught my eye: András Schiff playing the Andantino from Schubert’s Sonata in A Major, D959. I clicked on it and was transfixed and transported by the majesty and sheer magic of his playing. That video, in turn, led to another, much earlier performance of András playing the Goldberg Variations of Bach. Again, a performance so compelling that I had to immerse myself in it to the end. If you have a moment, go to the Vancouver Recital Society YouTube channel, click on the András Schiff playlist, sit back and enjoy!

I have a confession here. Along with Murray Perahia, András Schiff has been right up there on my list of most special pianists. There is something about the way that András sits, upright, and almost motionless at the keyboard as he weaves his spell. How incredibly lucky we are to be hearing him on May 14 at the Chan Centre with the equally remarkable baritone, Christian Gerhaher, and again at the Chan Centre on October 5 for the opening concert of our 12-13 Season, playing Book 1 of Bach’s “Well Tempered Klavier”. These will be concerts to linger in the memory for a lifetime.


Leila Getz

The One Who Got Away

QuasthoffFor a good many years I have been an ardent fan of the wonderful German bass-baritone, Thomas Quasthoff.  I had the good fortune to hear him in recital at the Wigmore Hall and remarkably, despite his 4ft height he was a towering presence on the stage.

He was a “thalidomide baby” who soared above his physical challenges, and became one of the greatest baritones of this generation.  His lieder singing was powerful and communicative as you will see from this video.

Thomas Quasthoff sings Schubert Winterreise

He was also a jazz singer of repute as you will hear in this video where he performs the great “Georgia on my mind”.

Thomas Quasthoff sings Georgia on my mind

The Vancouver Recital had engaged him for a performance at the Chan with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on February 15, 2003. Regrettably, he had to cancel the tour due to some health challenges at the time, and we have not had another opportunity to engage him.

Last Wednesday he announced “After almost 40 years, I have decided to retire from concert life. My health no longer allows me to live up to the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself. I owe a lot to this wonderful profession and leave without a trace of bitterness”.

I read a review of a concert of his at Carnegie Hall in which he is reputed to have shouted at a few people in the audience who tried to rush away right after the last song (the reviewer said “probably to catch the last bus to Hoboken!”)…”wait! I haven’t finished singing!”.  Now that takes courage.

Thomas Quasthoff will continue to teach and to run his Lieder Competition.  He is a one-of-a kind.

There is an illuminating interview he did with the British music journalist, Norman Lebrecht on the BBC.  Here is the link.  Make a nice cup of tea, settle back and enjoy.  


For Your Viewing Pleasure: Giltburg and Rysanov

Pianist Boris Giltburg at the Vancouver Playhouse on Sunday, September 25 at 3pm.

“From start (Liszt) to finish (Prokofiev), Boris Giltburg’s recital brought to light an aspect of virtuosity neglected by many of his peers: the close relationship between art and technique.” Schwetzinger Zeitung. In addition to Prokofiev and Lizst, Mr. Giltburg performs music by Franck and Bartok.

After reading the above review, we are thrilled that Boris Giltburg has included Liszt and Prokofiev on his September 25 debut at the Vancouver Playhouse. In anticipation, we have included a video of Mr. Giltburg performing Liszt at the Artur Rubinstein Piano Competition.

Video: Giltburg performs Liszt at Rubinstein Competition

Violist Maxim Rysanov with pianist Eldar Nebolsin at Kay Meek Centre on Sunday, October 16 at 3pm.

In selecting Rysanov’s recording of Bach Suites as the CD of the week, The Sunday Times wrote: “…Rysanov really claims the music for his lush-tones and 1780 Guadagnini viola in a manner few can rival. No admirer of great viola playing should forgo the pleasures of Rysanov’s playing.”

Maxim Rysanov performs music by Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Dubugnon and Franck.

Of course, we are equally thrilled that Maxim Rysanov has included Bach on his Kay Meek Centre program. Here is a film clip from his recording of the Bach Suites… for “the pleasures of Rysanov’s playing.”

Video: Rysanov Performs Bach

For Your Viewing Pleasure

It seems only appropriate to highlight the dynamic skills of Kirill Gerstein in a performance of Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Piano Concerto with the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

And while we are considering virtuoso performances, we could not resist offering two encore performances by George Li (Playhouse, Sunday, December 4). We have uploaded two videos of George performing Flight of the Bumblebee, the first video showcases George’s talent at the astonishing age of 12, the second features George at age 15.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Maxim Rysanov describes how he was introduced to the viola. It didn’t take long for this “prince among violists” to achieve success and acclaim. In September 2010 he performed Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations at the Last Night of the Proms with conductor Jiri Belohlavek and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Maxim Rysanov performs at Kay Meek Centre on Sunday, October 16.