Sunday, March 23, 2014

Andras Agoston

Andras Agoston is a Romanian (some would say Hungarian) violinist and teacher born (in Cluj) on March 17, 1947.  (Cluj is about 230 miles northwest of Bucharest.)  For the most part, Agoston has made his career in Eastern Europe but is recognized the world over, though mainly by audiences who keep very close tabs on the world of classical music.  To the general public, he is definitely not a household name and there is scant information about him on the internet.  Nonetheless, he is a very brilliant and unique artist.  He first studied in his native city with Paula Kouba, Peter Zsurka, and Istvan Ruha.  An audio file of the famous Handel-Halvorsen passacaglia with Ruha on viola is located here – in my opinion, it’s the best recording of this work available anywhere and it’s not even a studio recording.  (Ruha’s viola playing is also simply phenomenal.)  After graduating from the Klausenburg Music Academy (in 1972?), he taught there for 20 years.  Between 1991 and 2001, he was concertmaster of the Philharmonia Hungarica, an orchestra (mainly composed of self-exiled Hungarian musicians) which was initially based near Vienna, Austria.  The orchestra later settled in Marl, a small city about 30 miles northeast of Dusseldorf, Germany.  It became famous for its recording of the complete Haydn symphonies – one of only three orchestras to produce such a project.  The recording project received every award imaginable.  However, the orchestra recorded much more music than this – a total of about 130 discs.  The Philharmonia Hungarica was funded by Germany between 1956 and 2001, after which it ceased to exist.  Agoston continues to give master classes and perform throughout Europe.  As far as I know, he is still based in Marl, Germany.  What violin he plays is unknown to me. Here is a YouTube file in which he plays the Brahms double concerto.  

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Victor Tretyakov

Victor Tretyakov (Viktor Viktorovich Tretiakov) is a Russian violinist, teacher, and conductor born (in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia) on October 17, 1946.  He is known for an extraordinary technique.  Though Russia was his home base for the first fifty years of his career, he has performed with (almost) every major orchestra in the world and toured far and wide as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber ensemble musician.  He has been awarded every major prize and been given every honor Russia offers its artists.  Tretyakov began studying the violin at age 5 in Irkutsk (Siberia) with a teacher whom I could not trace (please see comments below).  At age 10 (1956), he entered the Central Music School in Moscow where he studied with Yury Yankelevich (pupil of Abram Yampolski and among whose students are Leonid Kogan, Vladimir Spivakov, Ilya Kaler, and Albert Markov.)  At age 19 (1966), during his first year at the Moscow Conservatory, he won first prize in the Tchaikovsky Competition.  In 1969, he was named soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonic.  He graduated from the Moscow Conservatory one year later (1970.)  He was 23 years old.  However, he continued to study with Yankelevich.  His first performance with the Berlin Philharmonic was on October 17, 1981.  He played the Brahms concerto on that occasion.  He was 35 years old.  In 1983, he became artistic director of the USSR State Chamber Orchestra which later became the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.  He gave that post up in 1991.  From 1986 to 1994, he served as President of the jury for the Tchaikovsky Competition.  He also taught at the Moscow Conservatory for many years but I do not have the dates.  In 1996, he moved to Germany to teach at the advanced school for music in Cologne.  He was 50 years old.  He has also held master classes all over the world.  Here is a YouTube audio file in which he plays Paganini’s concerto in D.  With Yuri Bashmet (viola), Natalia Gutman (cello), and Vassily Lobanov (piano), he formed a piano quartet whose name I do not know.  Among other violins, he has played a 1772 Nicolo Gagliano violin and a gorgeous modern violin by Alexander Hazin.  His discography is not extensive (it fills ten CDs) but it covers all of the standard concertos and sonatas.