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Elgar was a string-player, a violinist of considerable ability – the concerto and the sonata he wrote for the instrument are some of his most characteristic and personal works. Two works for string orchestra have both become firm repertoire favorites. The Introduction and Allegro, which he composed for string quartet and string orchestra in 1905, is in effect a Romantic enlargement of the concerto grosso principal. But the Serenade for strings which we hear tonight is altogether simpler. It is the earliest work by Elgar to have become well known – it preceded his ‘Enigma’ Variations by six years – but it is utterly characteristic.
The opening movement (piacevole, as marked, means ‘pleasing’) has the same lilting rhythm as Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade (the orchestral version of which dates from the same year), but also a gentler, more dusky atmosphere of its own, in which the desire to please in the rise and fall of its phrases is expressed, at first, with a certain shyness. The melodic shapes of the slow middle movement (in C major) are typical, too, and intensify briefly to a central confession of feeling before sinking back into a threefold reminder of the opening phrase. The final movement returns to the alfresco character of the first, with some discreet reminders of its lilting rhythm.
The slow movement was heard first, on its own, in Hereford in 1893, and all three movements were eventually performed in Antwerp in 1896. Much later in life Elgar singled the Serenade out as his favourite work and described it as ‘really stringy in effect’; he included it as one of his last gramophone recordings the year before he died.
- Adrian Jack, BBC Radio 3 UK
Pinchas Zukerman has been recognized as a phenomenon for nearly four decades. His musical genius and prodigious technique have long been a marvel to critics and audiences, and his exceptional artistic standards continue to earn him the highest acclaim. His devotion to younger generations of musicians who are inspired by his magnetism has been applauded worldwide. Equally respected as a violinist, violist, conductor, pedagogue and chamber musician, Pinchas Zukerman is indeed a master of our time.
In April 1998, Pinchas Zukerman was appointed music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada. He is the fifth conductor to lead the 46-member, classical-sized ensemble, which was founded in 1969 as the resident orchestra of the newly opened National Arts Centre. Mr. Zukerman is deeply committed to enriching the Orchestra’s cultural involvement within the region, and since his appointment has taken an interest in virtually every aspect of Ottawa’s artistic community. He has made four recordings with the orchestra, introduced a new acoustic control system in the NAC's Southam Hall, been involved in a number of national radio and television broadcasts, and initiated the NAC Young Artists Program as part of the summer's Great Composers Festival. He led the enormously successful Canada tour in October 1999, highlighted by unprecedented educational activities from coast to coast, and last season's Tour 2000, including the first-ever visit by a Canadian orchestra to the Middle East, was equally well received.
In addition to his position with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Mr. Zukerman remains artist in residence of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, where he performs as conductor and featured soloist for two subscription weeks each year. He also chairs the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at Manhattan School of Music. To maintain close relationships with his students while fulfilling the travel demands of his concert engagements, Mr. Zukerman has pioneered the use of distance-learning technology in the arts. Through the use of the school's recently installed videoconferencing system, his students are able to receive regular string instruction.
Following summer festival appearances throughout North America, including the Mostly Mozart, Ravinia, and Santa Fe Chamber Music festivals, Mr. Zukerman begins his third season as music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. Later in the 2001–2002 season, he conducted the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Montreal symphony orchestras, in addition to concerto appearances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle, the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Zubin Mehta, and the National Symphony. Gala performances included the Madison Symphony, Omaha Symphony, and Elgin Symphony. Overseas, he performed with the Berlin Staatsoper conducted by Daniel Barenboim, with the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona under Lawrence Foster, and as guest conductor and soloist with the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. Recitals with pianist Marc Neikrug took place throughout the United States, Canada, Spain, Germany, and the Netherlands, featuring a new work by Mr. Neikrug for violin and piano. In April 2002, Mr. Zukerman joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for world-premiere performances of a violin concerto by Oliver Knussen.
Pinchas Zukerman performs regularly with the world’s finest orchestras and has held numerous artistic positions. From 1980 to 1987, he was music director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and became instrumental in moving that ensemble to the new Ordway Theatre and bringing it to world renown. He also served as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Summer MusicFest for three years, London’s South Bank Festival for three years, and the Dallas Symphony’s International Summer Music Festival for three years. He was principal guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for two years.
A frequent chamber music performer, Pinchas Zukerman appears regularly with friends and colleagues who are luminaries of the music world, including Daniel Barenboim, Vladmir Ashkenazy, Itzhak Perlman, Ralph Kirshbaum, the Tokyo and Orion string quartets, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Yefim Bronfman, Lynn Harrell, and Marc Neikrug. Nearly every National Arts Centre Orchestra concert begins with Mr. Zukerman and orchestra musicians in preconcert chamber music performances. He also collaborates that season with musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony in a program of Brahms chamber works. Each summer, Mr. Zukerman appears at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, where he also participates in educational outreach activities within the community.
Pinchas Zukerman's extensive discography contains over 100 titles and has earned him 21 Grammy nominations and two awards: Best Chamber Music Performance in 1980 and Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra in 1981. For his 1998 release on BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal, he joined cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist John Browning for the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos with Christoph Eschenbach conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. Other recent BMG offerings include the complete violin/piano and viola/piano repertoire of Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann with pianist Marc Neikrug. In conjunction with highly acclaimed European and Far East tours with pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy and cellist Lynn Harrell, Decca released the ensemble’s recording of the Schubert Piano Trios. Mr. Zukerman’s earlier recordings are also available on the Angel, CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, London, and Philips labels. His first recording as music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra was a CBC Records 1999 release of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in which he is featured as conductor and violinist. An earlier recording of three Haydn works on BMG Classics, which he made as guest conductor of the Orchestra in 1993, was rereleased in 1998 in honor of his appointment. Last season, CBC Records released Mr. Zukerman's first-ever recording of Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 along with the Romance No. 2 in F Major. He has recently recorded a disc of Schubert works with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, due for release on CBC Records in late 2002.
Pinchas Zukerman has been featured in numerous television specials and national talk shows. He appeared with the Chicago Symphony on a PBS special entitled Mozart by the Masters and was a performer and presenter at the 1994 Grammy Awards ceremony. He has been a frequent performer on Live from Lincoln Center and has collaborated with the English filmmaker Christopher Nupen on several projects, including the Here to Make Music series, a Brahms series, a Schubert series, and a documentary on Nathan Milstein. Most recently, he appeared in Crossing Bridges, a documentary film about the 2000 Middle East tour of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show and on CBC Television's nationwide broadcast celebrating the opening concerts of the National Arts Centre’s 30th-anniversary season. Mr. Zukerman's violin playing can be heard on the soundtracks of the films Prince of Tides and Critical Care.
Born in Tel Aviv in 1948, Pinchas Zukerman studied music with his father, first on the recorder and clarinet, and later on the violin. He soon began lessons with Ilona Feher and, in 1962, came to America with the support of Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, and the America-Israel and Helena Rubenstein Foundations. He began his studies at The Juilliard School with Ivan Galamian and in 1967 was named first-prize winner of the 25th Leventritt Competition. He holds an honorary doctorate from Brown University and an Achievement Award from the International Center in New York. He was presented with the King Solomon Award by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation and, in 1983, President Reagan awarded him a Medal of Arts for his leadership in the musical world. Pinchas Zukerman is the father of two daughters, Arianna and Natalia.