Feb. 29, 2003 – St. Thomas for the third year has an official place on the program of Puerto Rico's venerable Casals Festival — with The Forum presenting the widely acclaimed Vienna Piano Trio on Friday night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
The 48th annual Casals Festival opened on Saturday in San Juan and continues through March 13. The trio — comprising Wolfgang Redik on violin, Matthias Gredler on cello and Stefan Mendl on piano — also performs Monday in San Juan, Tuesday in Mayaguez and Thursday again in San Juan.
The program for the St. Thomas performance, which is identical to that of Thursday in San Juan, consists of the Haydn Trio in A major, Hob. XV:18; Schöenberg's "Verklärte Nacht" ("Transfigured Night"); and the Schubert Trio in B major, D. 898.
The trio has been described by The Washington Post as "one of the world's leading ensembles of violin, cello and piano," hailed by The Baltimore Sun as "the Beaux Arts Trio of the 21st century," and praised by The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer for its silken sound and its "telepathic gifts of communication." The trio was selected by Isaac Stern for his 1993 chamber music workshop at New York's Carnegie Hall and is scheduled to make its Lincoln Center debut later in March.
BBC Music Magazine in its Feb. 1 issue said of the trio: "Its playing marries subtle tonal control with a true chamber music give-and-take. The strings' phrasing and vibrato are beautifully matched; and with a pianist as sensitive as Stefan Mendl, they are never in danger of being upstaged by accompanying keyboard configuration."
In addition to its own series at Vienna's Musikverein, which this year will feature the complete piano trios of Antonin Dvorák, the ensemble annually appears at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw and London's Wigmore Hall, and has performed in the United States and Canada at Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall, Kennedy Center, and major series in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. The group has toured throughout Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and has performed at numerous European and Canadian festivals.
In 2001 at the Vienna Musikverein, the trio performed the world premiere of a triple concerto written for the ensemble by the Austrian composer Christoph Cech.
Founded in 1988 by Redik, Mendl and cellist Marcus Trefny, the trio studied extensively with the Trio di Trieste, the Haydn Trio-Vienna, and the LaSalle and Guarneri Quartets, while also taking lessons from Stern, Ralph Kirschbaum, and the Kalishstein-Laredo-Robinson and Beaux Arts Trios. Gredler joined the ensemble in the cello position in 2001.
The Strad Magazine wrote in 1995 of the ensemble's "meteoric rise to fame." In April 2000, in a cover story, the publication hailed the group as "fast becoming the leading trio of the 21st century."
The Vienna Piano Trio's recordings have won numerous awards; The Times of London voted the ensemble's most recent Beethoven album (of the Piano Trios Op. 1, Nos. 2 and 3) "Classical Album of the Year 2000," opining that "This youthful ensemble have rapidly established themselves as one of the finest chamber groups on the international circuit."
A 1999 Gramophone reviewer of the trio's release of Mozart piano trios wrote: "These very musical young players seem to think and breathe as one … This is music-making of ravishing sensitivity and tonal command." The ensemble received the Editors' Choice nod from Gramophone for its Haydn album, and the magazine's Classic CD choice for its Shostakovich/Schnittke and Mozart releases. In December, the trio recorded the four Dvorak piano trios for MDG (Dabringhaus&Grimm), its exclusive label since 2002.
Violinist Redik, born in Graz, Austria, in 1968, studied at the Graz Academy of Music and University of Music in Vienna. He performs frequently as soloist and also has collaborated in chamber performances with Aurèle Nicolet, Yuri Bashmet and Bruno Canino, among others. He also teaches on the violin and chamber music faculty of the University of Music in Graz
Pianist Mendl was born in Vienna in 1966 and began his music studies at the age of 5. He studied at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, and in 1993 he was awarded the Grand Prix Franz Schubert by the International Schubert Society for his Schubert recitals during Vienna's Musiksommer.. He frequently performs with members of the Hagen Quartet and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Cellist Gredler was a founding member of the Viatores Quartet and solo cellist with the Munich Chamber Orchestra before joining the Vienna Piano Trio. He auditioned immediately after completing his studies.
And for those who will never quite get over "The Red Violin," for the record: Redik plays a J.B.Guadagnini 1771 worth about $700,000 that's on loan from the Austrian National Bank. A committee of the bank decides to whom it will lend its historic musical instruments, the most crucial factor being that the beneficiaries "will represent Austria all over the world as a musical ambassadors."
Friday's concert at the Reichhold Center will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50. They're available at the Reichhold box office, Dockside Bookshop, Interiors and Home Again. For charge card purchases, call the box office at 693-1559.
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