Charles Neidich (clarinet) , USA
Charles Neidich has gained worldwide recognition as one of the most mesmerizing virtuosos on his instrument. With a tone of hypnotic beauty and a dazzling technique, Mr. Neidich has received unanimous accolades from critics and fellow musicians both in the United States and abroad. But it is his musical intelligence in scores as diverse as Mozart and Elliott Carter that have earned for Mr. Neidich a unique place among clarinetists. In the words of The New Yorker, «He's an artist of uncommon merit - a master of his instrument and, beyond that, an interpreter who keeps listeners hanging on each phrase.».
For the 2008-09 season Mr. Neidich - a favorite with New York audiences - has a host of important engagements in New York City: he performs at New York's Merkin Concert Hall in a duo recital with pianist Igor Shochetam, and in a reading of Messiaen's great Quartet for the End of Time. He also appears at Zankel Hall on December 12, 2008 in a concert dedicated to Elliot Carter's 100th birthday as part of Carnegie Hall's «Making Music» series; following this he will be heard at the 92nd St.Y. Mr. Neidich also performs in La Jolla, Minneapolis, and Greenwich (CT), and on tour in Europe and Asia.
Highlights of Charles Neidich's 2007-2008 season included performances at the Festival Consonances of Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and a new work of his own titled «Icarus». He spent a week in November coaching and performing with a newly formed orchestra in Valencia, Spain, the Llanera Philharmonic, and at a New Year's Eve gala concert in Potsdam, Germany where he played Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen in his own arrangements for clarinet and orchestra. He also performed the world premiere of Ralph Shapey's Quintet for clarinet and string quartet and the American premiere of the Brahms Quintet Op. 115 on an Ottensteiner clarinet (the instrument that inspired Brahms to write the work) with the Juilliard Quartet as part of the Saidenberg concert series at the Juilliard School. He was heard with the Atlanta Symphony in his own reconstruction of Copland's original and very difficult version of this work. Other engagements were his series of masterclasses in Tama and Kita-Karuizawa, Japan, and a recording project in Moscow titled «The Art of Transcription». As conductor of the Queens College Chamber Orchestra he led the orchestra in works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in historically informed interpretations. He also performed regularly as a member of the New York Woodwind, Quartet.
During the 2005-06 season Mr. Neidich participated in the Internationaal Kamermuziekfestival Schiermonnikoog in the Netherlands; was heard with conductor Robert Craft at Carnegie Hall with pianist Robert Levin; as soloist in the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Williamsport (PA) Symphony; with the Juilliard String Quartet at the Chamber Music Society of Detroit; at the Prague Spring Festival and in recital with Carol Wincenc at New York's Alice Tully Hall under the auspices of the Naumburg Foundation. He continued to conduct and perform as soloist with the Queens College Chamber Orchestra, and also participated in the Sarasota Music Festival where his performance of Brahms's E-Flat Clarinet Sonata drew the following comments from senior critic John Fleming of the St. Petersburg Times on June 10, 2005: «Neidich brought a downright seductive quality to the sonata and its seamless flights between upper and lower registers. Swaying to the music, he demonstrated remarkable breath control in long, melancholy passages.».
In past seasons Mr. Neidich has appeared in recital and as guest soloist all over the world, and has been making his mark as a conductor. In wide demand as a soloist, Mr. Neidich has collaborated with some of the world's leading orchestras and ensembles, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Halle Staatsorchester of Germany, Orpheus, the St.Louis Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, San Diego Symphony, New City Chamber Orchestra of San Francisco, Athens Chamber Music Festival, Tafelmusik, the Juilliard, Guarneri, American, and Mendelssohn String Quartets, the Peabody Trio. He has made his mark not only as an instrumentalist and conductor, but also as an innovative programmer and student of period instrument performance practice.
Mr. Neidich commands a repertoire of over 200 solo works, including pieces commissioned or inspired by him, as well as his own transcriptions of vocal and instrumental works. A noted exponent of 20th century music, he has premiered works by Milton Babbit, Elliott Carter, Edison Denisov, William Schumann, Ralph Shapey, Joan Tower, and other leading contemporary composers. With a growing discography to his credit, Mr. Neidich can be heard on the Chandos, Sony Classical, Sony Vivarte, Deutsche Grammophon, Musicmasters, Pantheon, and Bridge labels. His recorded repertoire ranges from familiar works by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and Brahms, to lesser-known compositions by Danzi, Reicha, Rossini, and Hummel, as well as music by Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Kurtag, and other contemporary masters.
Mr. Neidich performs regularly at summer festivals and has appeared with the I Musici de Montréal, at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; the Ojai Festival in California; the La Musica International Chamber Music Festival in Sarasota, Florida; the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival; the June Music Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Oxford Festival in Canada; the Brereton International Music Symposium in England; the Kuhmo Festival and the Crusell Week in Finland; and the Kirishima and Lilia Festivals in Japan.
A native New Yorker of Russian and Greek descent, Charles Neidich had his first clarinet lessons with his father and his first piano lessons with his mother. Mr. Neidich's early musical idols were Fritz Kreisler, pianist Artur Schnabel and other violinists and pianists, rather than clarinetists. However, the clarinet won out over time, and he pursued studies with the famed pedagogue Leon Russianoff. Although Mr. Neidich became quite active in music at an early age, he opted against attending a music conservatory in favor of academic studies at Yale University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in Anthropology. In 1975 he became the first American to receive a Fulbright grant for study in the former Soviet Union, and he attended the Moscow Conservatory for three years where his teachers were Boris Dikov and Kirill Vinogradov.
In 1985 Mr. Neidich became the first clarinetist to win the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, which brought him to prominence as a soloist. He then taught at the Eastman School of Music and during that tenure joined the New York Woodwind Quintet, an ensemble with which he still performs. His European honors include a top prize at the 1982 Munich International Competition sponsored by the German television network ARD, and the Geneva and Paris International Competitions. Mr. Neidich has achieved recognition as a teacher in addition to his activities as a performer, and currently is a member of the artist faculties of The Juilliard School, the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music and Queens College. During the 1994-95 academic year he was a Visiting Professor at the Sibelius Academy in Finland where he taught, performed and conducted. Mr. Neidich is a long-time member of the renowned chamber ensemble Orpheus.