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Volume 13 - Issue 3 - November 2007

Anton Kuerti: Toronto

Anton Kuerti: Toronto INTERVIEWEDDavid Perlman: Were we to take a purely Toronto-centric approach tothings (heaven forbid), then the "beginning" of the Anton Kuerti storywould be the rrwment when, unheralded and unknown, you stepped intothe breach at the last minute to replace Dame Myra Hess with the TorontoSymphony Orchestra in 1961. Does that event even stand out as aparticular landmark any more, either in terms of your relationshipwith this city, or the twists and turns of your musical life?Anton Kuerti:Yes indeed! I had just been inToronto to play with the CBC Orchestra, conductedby Ettore Mazzoleni, Brahms D minorConcerto, I believe, and returned to Clevelandwhere I was living; I had hardly been home formore than a few hours when I was called by theTSO to see if I could come right back to playBeethoven's Concerto #4. I had not played it forseveral years, but I agreed, and practised nonstopto get it back into my head and fingers. I amsure this concert was a key catalyst in my gettingoffered the position at the U. of T. [Pianist inresidence, then an associate prof}Your upcoming recital with the Women's MusicalClub of Toronto (Nov 15 with Teng Li) is one reasonI wanted to do this story now. It's your fourthWMCT recital, the others being '63, '65 and '69.Out of curiosity I looked up the first one [in Hannaand Fred Feuerriegel's "History of Concerts andPeiformances of the WMCT'']. It was another cancellationwith Anton Kuerti to the rescue. In this case it was Peter Serkin,son of your own teacher. In any case, 1 didn't know if it's ridiculous toask if you remember what you played, so/ looked it up. It was Brahms:lntermeu.i (op/ 19//,2,3,4); Beethoven: Sonata #6 (op 10/2): Hindemith:Sonata #3 (Bb); and Schumann: Camaval (Op 9). Does anything strikeyou about it?I would not have remembered the repertoire of that concert without yourhelp! And I am astonished to see that the Beethoven Op. 10 No. 2 Sonatawas on the program, as it will be again in the up-coming concert; purecoincidence! I do not think I would start a recital now with Brahms Op.119, and I have not played the Hindemith for years, though I do like itvery much and think that Hindemith is being unjustly neglected.Can you trace changes in yourself musically by revisiting your relationshipwith a piece? Take Schumann's Carnaval, which was also on thatprogram. lfyou listen to the 1979 Analekta recording you made of it,would interest or what prevail?It has actually been very long since I performed the Carnaval, although Icould contemplate reviving it. I hardly ever listen to my own recordings,except if I hear them by chance on the radio. That happened to me about3 years ago, late at night, on CBC's "Galaxy", which - scandalously -identifies neither the piece nor the performer, just sends music out anonymously,as though no one could have the slightest interest in what orwho is playing. It was Beethoven's Sonata Op. 2 No. 3, and I thought tomyself, "Damn it, this pianist plays it much better than I do" . Afterwriting to Galaxy I found out - to my pleasure - that it was indeed myown recording. The Carnaval I did hear on radio a few years ago, and itsurprised me in that the virtuosity was better than I expected, but thewhimsy and extravagance was somewhat less than I hoped for.There are several works which I have recorded more than once,indeed the Hanunerklavier I have recorded three times, one of them live(well, there are a few inserts ....) I do think in this case the latest is byfar the best, though that is not necessarily always the case. I have beenafraid to compare too carefully the new versions of Beethoven's last5 sonatas with the complete set made long ago, because it would bedepressing if the earlier ones were better! Of course the piano, thevenue , the recording equipment all play their roles, and in any case arecording is always a snapshot from a particular day.COVER STORYBY DAVID PERLMANWomen's Musical Club's concerts are, of course, in Walter Hall now,where Mooredale Concerts has been these many years. I am hoping youwill talk about Moore-dale Concerts in this time of intense transition.Mooredale Concerts was entirely the brainchild and the passion of mybeloved Kristine Bogyo, and though I sometimes gave advice it was notalways taken, and I only participated occasionally. It will change now,as she played in most of the concerts herself. AsErika Raum, among others, said, "Kristinealways played soulfully" and the finest musicianswere always happy to come back again andagain. She went through the repertoire verycomprehensively, including rare pieces like theBruckner Quintet. There was ample rehearsaltime, she did not believe in throwing things togetherovernight as happens at many festivals.One of the most outstanding performances wasof the extremely difficult Kodaly Duo, withErika Raum, which we may eventually releaseon a CD.Mooredale used mainly local musicians, andgave opportunities to countless young artists, suchstars as Russell Braun, Measha Brueggergosman,Isabel Bayrakdarian, Stewart Goodyear,long before they became famous. This willcontinue, as will the modest admission prices.I am only disappointed that the newspapersgive us so little coverage; over the hundred orso concerts Mooredale has presented over the years, I don't think wehave had more than 3 or 4 reviews in the major dailies, though we havealways presented very special repertoire and wonderful artists. At thenext concert Nov. 24 and 25 the Tokai Quartet gives the fust Torontoperformance of the great Quartet in E minor by Carl Czemy, which is inmy opinion a true masterpiece, plus a wonderful quartet for clarinet andstrings ... . It would seem that something like this would deserve someattention, but then I guess the informal atmosphere and the low priceshave made critics scornfully dismiss the series as a "Ma and Pa" venture,as Tamara Bernstein so crudely put it once.The Syrinx Chamber series takes as a thematic through-line the work ofone Canadian composer-in previous years, Srul Irving Glick, OskarMorawetz, Walter Buczynski. This year it's you!I have composed off and on throughout my life; as a teenager I studiedwith Hemy Cowell, among others. I have never actively promoted mycompositions, and do not perform them often. I feel that performersought to try to compose, if only to enhance their appreciation of the geniusof the great masters. It seems unnatural to spend one's life withmusic and not be tempted to create one's own ..... My music is harmonicallyfairly dissonant, on the whole, but melodically it is vaguelydiatonic.I fmd much music of the past 60 years far too complex. Chambermusic's natural habitat is the impassioned amateur. Can you imagineamateurs getting together to read through string quartets by Schoenbergor Elliot Carter (the Juilliard Quartet needed more than 50 rehearsals toprepare his third quartet)? I think even some of my own compositionsare perhaps more dissonant and complex than necessary.How would Anton Kuerti: Cleveland (for example) have been differentfrom Anton Kuerti: Toronto? (Thank you Dame Myra!)Toronto has been a great choice for me, and has treated me very generously.I don't know what might have happened elsewhere. The CBC hasmade a huge contribution over the years, though its support of the artsdoes seem to be withering at the moment. In the U.S. the need to battlemilitarism, fundamentalist religion and imperialism - and plain stupidity- make it hard to concentrate on one's own interests: thereseem to be too many crucial issues that need constant attention.•8 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM N OVEM BER 1 - D ECEMBE R 7 2007Back to Ad Index

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