September 02, 2013
Jonathan Biss Announces Schumann: Under the Influence, an international initiative of over 30 concerts examining the works of Robert Schumann
Performances in London, Amsterdam, New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Kansas City
Collaborations with tenor Mark Padmore, soprano Camilla Tilling, violist Kim Kashkashian, clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois, violist Scott St. John, clarinetist Carey Bell, and the Elias String Quartet
With over 30 concerts throughout Europe and North America over an eight month span, Schumann: Under the Influence is a season-long exploration of the composer’s role in musical history. Pianist Jonathan Biss and several hand-picked collaborators will perform Schumann’s work, music by his notable influences such as Beethoven, Schubert, and Purcell, and selections from his long list of successors ranging from Berg and Janácek to 26-year-old composer Timothy Andres. As Biss explains, “This series of concerts takes a deeply affectionate look at the man whose music I find so endlessly fascinating and moving, and attempts to ‘place’ him–to explore the rather complex relationship he has with the composers who inspired him, and to show on every level how poor indeed we would be without him, his music, and his legacy.”
The initiative is unique among presenters and soloists. Biss personally curated each concert with a mind towards creating a complete whole. He notes, “The impetus for Schumann: Under the Influence was–of course–Schumann’s music itself. My feelings for this music go beyond love, though there’s also plenty of that: silly as it may sound, I feel somehow protective of him. This is first of all because his music is so deeply personal and achingly vulnerable, it tends to inspire these feelings in those who respond deeply to his music. But equally, it comes from my sense that for a composer of his stature, he is subject to a remarkable number of misconceptions, and to an attitude that can at times be downright condescending. I wanted to show Schumann’s music exactly as it is–deeply poetic, fragile, obsessive, evocative, whimsical, internal.” Unlike a traditional artist-in-residency, Schumann: Under the Influence allows Biss to create a sprawling, roving Schumann festival in multiple countries, with various presenter partners, and, perhaps most importantly, with a diversified set of artist co-conspirators.
Biss will be joined in this project by tenor Mark Padmore, soprano Camilla Tilling, violist Kim Kashkashian, clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois, Scott St. John, Carey Bell, and the Elias String Quartet. Says Biss, “It is no accident that most of the music on these four programs is collaborative. Given that this project is to such a large degree about exploration, there is enormous pleasure to be found in opening it up to other viewpoints, to the voices–literal in some cases–of other musicians. And so, while the other performers involved are in many respects very different from one another, they are similar in that they all approach music with an attitude of curiosity.” Over the course of the 2012-13 season, Biss also plays Schumann with orchestras including the Prague Philharmonia, the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra National de Belgique, and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Biss’s May 2013 recital at Wigmore Hall in London will be recorded for the Wigmore Hall Live label. Launched in 2005, Wigmore Hall Live has released over 40 records to great critical acclaim. This performance includes Schumann’sPhantasiestücke interspersed with selections from Janáçek’s Along an Overgrown Path. The evening concludes with Berg’s Piano Sonata and Davidsbündlertänze by Schumann.