For more than a decade, violin master Pinchas Zukerman has been using videoconferencing technology to instruct students who may be in Minnesota or at the Manhattan School of Music. It's just one way he strives to motivate future generations of musicians.
Five years ago, he teamed up with four proteges to form the Zukerman Chamber Players. One member of the quartet, violist Jethro Marks, first studied with Zukerman during some of those early videoconferencing sessions.
On this new recording, the Zukerman Chamber Players join pianist Yefim Bronfman to perform two masterpieces of chamber music, Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, and Mozart's Piano Quartet in E flat.
During the summer of 1819, 22-year-old Franz Schubert traveled outside his native Vienna to stay with a music patron in upper Austria.
Sylvester Paumgartner was an amateur cellist who held musical gatherings at his home. It was Paumgartner who requested that Schubert compose a quintet based on his favorite Schubert song, "The Trout."
It's easy to hear why this early instrumental work is one of Schubert's best-loved works. This piece is joyously effervescent, especially in the hands of top-notch performers.
In the first movement, the piano shimmers as Bronfman sails up to the high end of the keyboard. The four string players perform in tandem providing glorious harmonies, and a strong support system for the piano.
The third movement of the "Trout" Quintet is a lively musical game between the five players. Quick tempo changes and an expressive range of dynamics make this a "fish tale" that's a pleasure to listen to.
Schubert based the fourth movement on his song which recounts the saga of the carefree trout, which is eventually caught by the clever fisherman. This is a delightful set of variations on that song. The rippling piano part really makes the melody shine.
It was Mozart's Piano Quartet in E-flat major that established the piano quartet as a winning instrumental combination. He added his favorite instrument, the viola, to the more standard trio of violin, cello and keyboard. It became a musical recipe that resonated with the composer and the public.
Mozart wrote most of his opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," between his two early piano quartets. The spirit of that comic opera, with its lively interplay between the characters, is felt especially in the third movement of the quartet.
Mozart learned early on that his quartets were most effective when there was a strong dialogue between the players. Yefim Bronfman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jethro Marks and Amanda Forsyth prove Mozart's point by generating an exquisite musical conversation in this performance.
For more than 40 years, Pinchas Zukerman has been inspiring music lovers and performers alike. With this new recording of two of the most popular works in the chamber repertoire, he continues that legacy.