Castle Concert CD Series
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827):
Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2
Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57
A concert hosted by "Musik im Schloss" Bad Homburg
Recorded, produced and created
CD Audio, ca. 52 minutes, DDD
Esteemed friends of audiophile music, the concert grand piano is incontestably the king of instruments. I could now wax lyrical about its incomparable dynamics and go into its ability to go from the tenderest of sounds in a soft minor key to the magnificent power of a fortissimo, or I could rhapsodise about its impressive size and elegance. But what makes this instrument really fascinating is its individuality, since each one is unique in itself - created by a master. A concert grand has a life all of its own that a virtuoso can really "get into" and hence bring the work of the composer to life. In our Grand Piano Masters series, we get into the character and soul of the concert grand piano and experience, during the performance itself, the dialogue between the instrument, the virtuoso and the performance space.
Appassionata - appassionato (passionate, impassioned) - passione (passion), to have a passion for something, to be a passionate artist, going to the limits of suffering for the sake of it, not because of the benefits. I might perhaps also mention the word 'calling' here, the passion that is the prerequisite of mastery. For, esteemed friends, which of us today still feels himself called to do something and is prepared to live for that calling? To wander up to the heights and down into the deep valleys, to accept setbacks, other people's lack of understanding, personal sacrifices and much, much more?
The young virtuoso in his prime and with all his charm must first be polished year after year in order to become a glittering diamond - a true master. For what distinguishes a master is the passion, the fervour and, above all, the experience. I like youthful "Sturm and Drang", as you no doubt also do - it comes at us like a breath of fresh air, irrepressible and powerful. Yet when that first fame evaporates, when you've played the big houses and the euphoria of the moment inevitably ends up back in the same old rooms? What then?
Then you need love, unconditional passion and a deeply felt calling to make it to true masterdom. This particular recording is of a concert by a true past master who has "been there and done that" and who is now conveying and passing on her experiences and artistic merit to the up-and-coming generation. Lilya, with all her humaneness and virtuosity of performance, has crossed the boundary into that space where pride is refined into modesty, with the result that what is being played is measured against how it is conveyed to the person instead of against the preordained perfection of the music aristocracy.
Melancholy for the transience of the moment is etched in her features when she has given the audience her all. At the "Bad Homburg Bechstein Concerts in the Castle", we had the opportunity to witness her interpretation of two impassioned composers - Beethoven, who carried the "Appassionata" inside him, and Brahms, who until his death held fast to his unrequited "Passione" for Clara Schumann, the love of his life...
The path that Lilya Zilberstein has taken reflects the triumph of a calling, a dogged determination to overcome obstacles that would have shattered any other talent: the eighties in the USSR were times of overt, yet unofficial antisemitism. Despite all the first prizes won at important Russian and Soviet competitions - at the Russian Federation's 1985 competition, for example - she was told in no uncertain terms that she was persona non grata at the Moscow Conservatory because of her Jewish origins. Permission to take part in international piano competitions was withheld, in particular when it came to the International Tchaikovsky Competition.
The one exception to this in 1987 was more of a coincidence than anything else: she was given permission to take part in the Busoni Competition in Bozen. Her triumph there was a sensation, and five years passed before a first prize was ever awarded in Bozen again. Her debut in the West marked the turning point of Lilya's career, and experts in the music branch pricked up their ears. By August 1998, she had received the International Accademia Musicale Chigiana Prize in Siena. Holders of this award include Gidon Kremer, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Krystian Zimerman. Fast on the heels of this honour came extended tournées in numerous countries throughout Western Europe as well as an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
Since that time, Lilya Zilberstein has been a presence on the great stages of the world. In 1991, she debuted at the Berlin Philharmonic with Claudio Abbado conducting, which laid the foundations for repeated collaboration between them. She has participated in concerts with the most renowned international orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, the orchestra of Milan's La Scala and many, many more. Besides Claudio Abbado, she has worked with conductors such as Paavo Berglund, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedossejew, Dmitrij Kitajenko, James Levine, Marcello Viotti, Hugh Wolff and Michael Tilson Thomast.
Deutsche Grammophon and Lilya Zilberstein have produced legendary CDs. A particular highlight is the benchmark recording of the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos with Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. And in addition to her career as a soloist, Lilya Zilberstein is a passionate performer of chamber music and works with the great soloists of the day. The piano duo of Martha Argerich and Lilya Zilberstein has been highly acclaimed all over the world for many a year now. Over and above this, she regularly goes on world tournées with violinist Maxim Vengerow. The international press agrees on one thing: there is no superlative too good for her! Lilya Zilberstein belongs firmly in the circle of those magical sorcerers of sound on the piano.
The Castle Concert CD Series
It was thanks to Heinrich von Kleist's drama "The Prince of Homburg" that the former residence of the Landgraves of Hesse-Homburg, a stone's throw away from the gates of Frankfurt, became world-famous. The palace with its wonderful gardens is probably one of the most beautiful baroque estates in Germany. It is therefore no wonder that the Prussian Kings and German Kaisers were very fond of spending the summers between 1866 and 1916 here. And also no doubt because of the relaxation and recreation provided by the town of Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, a spa famous for its medicinal springs. Even the Prince of Wales used to come here in search of amusement, relaxation and "to take the waters" along with the English and Russian aristocracy.
At the courts of Europe, art was extremely multi-faceted. The educated aristocracy was aware of the necessity to support and cultivate the fine arts, and in doing so, created the basis for Europe's ambience. And so it was thanks to arts patron Isaak von Sinclair that the poet genius Friedrich Hölderlin became the court librarian at Homburg Castle during the artistically formative years of his life. It was here that Hölderlin wrote "Patmos", probably his best-known poem. In those days, much that was of little ostensible or commercial value in the fine arts or in literature and music aroused considerable attention and admiration, thus laying the foundations of our cultural life and identity today.
Music that is new, pieces worth listening to and well worth conserving, little treasures from the traditional and the avant-garde - music that is unimaginable anywhere else but in the hotbed of Europe - our "Castle Concerts" series of recordings captures these in their original settings and preserves them for the future. By his endowment to the town church in Bad Homburg, Kaiser Wilhelm II unwittingly did the little church in the palace a favour and helped turn it into one of the most beautiful and intimate concert halls in Europe. The Castle Church fell into disuse and was forgotten, along with its magnificent late-18th century Bürgy organ. The turmoil and modernization fads of the 20th century passed it by, and it remained untouched until a local initiative, the "Bad Homburg Castle Church Trust", stepped in and secured enough patronage to save this architectural gem. True to the original and with a loving attention to detail, both, church and organ were restored to create a truly wonderful concert hall.
Today the Castle Church sparkles with a renewed radiance that is set off perfectly by the superb "Music in the Castle" concerts organized with such enthusiasm by Ulrike and Volker Northoff.
View the website of the "Music in the Castle" concerts at www.musik-im-schloss.de
The CD Edition
Publishing culture in its authentic form entails for us capturing and recording for posterity outstanding performances and concerts. The performers, audience, opus and room enter into an intimate dialogue that in its form and expression, its atmosphere, is unique and unrepeatable. It is our aim, the philosophy of our house, to enable the listener to acutely experience every facet of this symbiosis, the intensity of the performance. The results are unparalleled interpretations of musical and literary works, simply - audiophile snapshots of permanent value, recorded in direct 2-Track Stereo digital.
In our Edition Authentic Classical Concerts we go in search of this dialogue - to the large constructions and rare pearls of human architecture. For every building has its peculiarities, formed by its historical, acoustic and atmospheric circumstances. But the critical element remains the person, the artist with his intellectual sensibilities. The genesis, the origin, the environment, the musical evolution and education are all factors that develop our tastes and preferences: for example, for a love of large spaces, of classical or modern architecture.
It is not without reason that the peoples of other continents and cultures enthuse over the fascination of the European experience... is not "the land of opportunity" or the magic of the orient equally worthy of a visit? Is not the sensitivity of an Italian opera singer or a Bulgarian violinist crucial to the interpretation, the handling of the composition, the work? And finally, the circle is closed with the emotions of the audience and the atmosphere of the performance site.
These subjectivities are mirrored in the perception of an atmosphere, a space - creating an individual, personal imagined space within a space - coloring the conception of a piece. Classical music lives! Lives through the interpretation, the tension built up during the performance, and through the combination of work, space, artist and audience.
We accept the challenge and record the concerts directly in digital stereo and thus become a part of the performance itself, capturing, in sound and pictures, the impressions, the suspense that we enjoy during a concert - so that we may impart to you as authentic an experience as possible.
Flourishing culture in living monuments, enthralling the audience and last but not least also you the listener are the values we endeavor to document in this series.
Andreas Otto Grimminger & Josef-Stefan Kindler