Category Archives: Beethoven

The Kennedy Center and Music Everywhere

What an intense week this has been! Performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, a program of Old and New with my trio, The Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio. The evening included two masterpieces, Beethoven’s so-called “Ghost” Trio, and Schubert’s sublime B-flat Trio. This particular Schubert happens to be the first chamber music work I studied very deeply and performed with wonderful colleagues – that was during my first summer at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, while still an undergraduate student. The other works on our Kennedy Center program were two new pieces – “Piano Trio” by Jennifer Higdon, and “Juxt-Opposition”, which was written for us by our cellist, Clancy Newman. It is definitely a special process performing a new work with the composer as a member of the group. The work tends to evolve and change while rehearsing, and it did all the way until we walked on stage! Here’s the Washington Post review that came out following our concert: “Trio Triumphs at Terrace”

I absolutely love interacting with the audience after a performance, and we had a chance to do that here, signing CDs in the lobby. I find it refreshing and also very important to hear impressions from people who are not professional musicians, people who go to concerts to be nourished, to be moved and inspired, hopefully even to be elevated to some level beyond that of daily life.  As I write this I’m thinking of one woman who came to the CD signing and said how grateful she was.  And she had such an amazing glow on her face – she clearly experienced something really special listening to all this wonderful music, was transformed by it and had a magnificent evening. I was in turn moved by how music can speak so deeply to so many people, whether or not they have ever actually studied music seriously.

A week earlier, I was in Oregon, presenting an outreach concert for young high-school students following a recital there. There too, I felt such a sense of joy sharing what I do with young people, most of whom had never heard classical music before. Combining playing with conversations, I was really surprised by how engrossed the kids were, and how they were able to connect with some challenging repertoire on first hearing.  Again, hearing their thoughts, young non-musicians reacting to music intuitively, was a reassuring experience – yes, great music can indeed reach people, and it isn’t going to disappear even if the “industry” is suffering….

By the way, here’s a really fun article by another non-musician. This relates to the trio’s new Brahms and Smetana recording.  I really love this – it is as important to me as any official “review”: Two Piano Trios to Research by

And – one last thing…: If you are in New York City, this Thursday, 1/26 I’m giving a Masterclass for NYU’s Artist MasterClass Series. This will be an all-Beethoven class, free admission, at the Steinhardt School of Music, 75 3rd Avenue North. I’m really looking forward to working with these students – don’t be surprised if you hear something about it on some future podcasts!

Second Week’s Shows Are Here! Monday 12/12 through Friday 12/16

What a fantastic week! Publishing the Classical Minutes podcasts on iTunes last weekend, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was just having fun coming up with thoughts and tips that listeners would find helpful and thinking how much I will enjoy giving people a new show every day. That made me happy in itself – and then, hearing from so many people with enthusiastic and positive feedback over the past week has been an excellent bonus!

I devoted this past week to continuing work on my cycle of performances of the complete 32 Beethoven Sonatas. The Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 31/3 has been on my practicing menu, getting ready for a performance in early January. Also, I began looking into a piano trio by Jennifer Higdon, an exciting work that my trio, Weiss-Kaplan-Newman Trio will be performing at the Kennedy Center next month. The titles of the movements are “Pale Yellow” and “Fiery Red” – fitting titles to the music, regardless of whether or not you have synesthesia – that blessing (or is it a curse?!) that makes you see specific colors in association with particular notes.

In between Beethoven and Higdon, I was on the phone yesterday with an interviewer for Strad Magazine, answering questions for their “Double Acts” feature. This is a monthly article studying two people who perform together over a long period of time, exploring their relationship both on and off stage… You can guess who my partner in this was… Mark Kaplan, violinist extraordinaire, member of our piano trio, husband, and – the first person who gets to listen to my new podcasts!

This week’s shows ask “How Well Do You Know Your Scores?”, “What Is the Best Time?” “Can You See the Big Picture?” and we also talk about the ability to measure your progress. My favorite is probably Thursday’s show, “Do You Really Love Music?”. This may seem like a surprising question – surely that is the one constant element that we all share?! However, we all do struggle sometimes, and discovering and reconnecting with our instinctive experience of music is often all that we need to get back on track. As always, you can find this and all other shows on iTunes, and please don’t forget to click the “Subscribe Free” button to download directly to your computer.

Looking forward to hearing from you here and at www.facebook.com/ClassicalMinutes!