For his debut as an exclusive Warner Classics artist, the 26-year-old American violinist Benjamin Beilman has chosen four contrasting, yet complementary works that span the Viennese and Slavic repertoires and the 19th and 20th centuries. Appropriately, the album is entitled Spectrum.
Joining him on the album is his regular duo partner, the pianist Yekwon Sunwoo – a fellow alumnus of Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. “Yekwon and I have performed these pieces together for years,” explains Beilman. “As we looked to choose the repertoire for our debut album, we realised that the four works featured on Spectrum – while seemingly disparate at first glance – share many common bonds. The natural lyricism and tenderness of the Schubert [Sonata in A major D. 574 ‘Grand Duo’] highlights the moments of intimacy in the Janáček [Sonata for violin & piano], which so often expresses pure violence and terror. Stravinsky's dance rhythms and insistent pulse [Divertimento from Le baiser de la fée] are echoed in the waltz section of the Kreisler [Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta].”
Benjamin Beilman is more than ready to explore the many colours and expressive possibilities that the music on Spectrum opens to him – and to evoke them with the finest technical nuances. He first attracted wide attention by winning the 2010 Montréal International Musical Competition with an epic among violin concertos, the Sibelius. Since then, the reviews that he has amassed from the critics of the New York Times provide an insight into his distinctive and multi-faceted artistic personality: “handsome technique, burnished sound” … “dark chocolate sound and lyricism” … “a passionate performer with a deep, rich tone” … “bold sound” … “muscular with a glint of violence”. The newspaper summed up his partnership with Yekwon Sunwoo in a description of their interpretation of Brahms’s Violin Sonata No. 3: “a passionate and expressive performance, with the turbulent outbursts balanced with introspective poise by this youthful, but musically mature, duo." Around the time of his Montréal victory, meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer described Beilman as “poised and monstrously talented” and, in 2012 praised his “compelling performance” of Bruch’s well-loved Violin Concerto No 1, emphasising that “the brain behind the sound burst with ideas”.
Beilman started learning the violin at the age of five and went on to study as a teenager with the distinguished teachers Roland and Almita Vamos in Chicago. At the Curtis Institute his main professor was Ida Kavafian, but he has also studied with Pamela Frank. More recently, he took lessons at the Kronberg Academy in Germany with Christian Tetzlaff.
As a soloist, he has performed in Europe with such orchestras as the London Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Tonhalle Zurich, Basel Symphony and London Contemporary Orchestra, in Asia with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and in North America with the Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, Indianapolis Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He is also an avid chamber musician, appearing regularly with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York and on tour, and at such festivals as Music@Menlo, Marlboro, Santa Fe, Seattle Chamber Music, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Verbier. His appearances as a recitalist include Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, festivals in Tokyo and Beijing, and, in Europe, Wigmore Hall in London, the Berlin Philarmonie and the Zurich Tonhalle.
Benjamin Beilman's album Spectrum is out now.
Warner Classics is proud to announce the signing of an exclusive recording contract with Benjamin Beilman, whose “handsome technique, burnished sound and quiet confidence showed why he has come so far so fast” (The New York Times).
Born in 1989, the American violinist is one of his generation’s most promising stars, having taken First Prize and the People’s Choice Award at the International Music Competition of Montreal at the age of 20. He went on to receive an Avery Fischer Career Grant in 2012, and a prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2014, with the latter supporting his first album for Warner Classics. At 25, Beilman has already performed as soloist at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Auditorium du Louvre and other major venues around the world.
“I grew up listening to many of the great violinists associated with Warner Classics like Itzhak Perlman and Maxim Vengerov, and am excited and honored to now work with a company with such a rich history,” said Beilman of the signing.
For his Warner Classics debut, entitled Spectrum, Benjamin Beilman carefully put together a wide-ranging and ambitious program, from the virtuosic elegance of Kreisler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta to the energetic, mercurial Divertimento from Stravinsky’s The Fairy’s Kiss; from stately Schubert to impassioned, melancholic Janáček. Joining him for this album is his regular duo partner and fellow Curtis Institute of Music alumnus, Yekwon Sunwoo. At 26, the South Korean-born pianist is a seasoned chamber musician, having already played at the Verbier Festival.
“Yekwon and I have performed these pieces together for years and as we looked to choose the repertoire for our debut album, we realized that the four works featured on Spectrum – while seemingly disparate at first glance – share many common bonds,” explains Beilman. “The natural lyricism and tenderness of the Schubert highlights the moments of intimacy in the Janacek which so often expresses pure violence and terror. Stravinsky's dance rhythms and insistent pulse are echoed in the waltz section of Kreisler's Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta.”
Jean-Philippe Rolland, Warner Classics and Erato Executive Vice-President of Artists and Repertoire, said: “Benjamin Beilman is the embodiment of excellence in the American school of violin playing; he continues this tradition as the leading violinist of his generation, with a thoughtful, intelligent and inspired approach entirely his own. We are delighted to welcome him to Warner Classics.”
Benjamin Beilman’s new album Spectrum, recorded in Boston, will be released on Warner Classics in March 2016.
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata in A major D. 574 “Grand Duo” (1817)
 1. Allegro moderato
 2. Scherzo: presto
 3. Andantino
 4. Allegro vivace
LEOŠ JANÁČEK (1854-1928)
Sonata for violin & piano, JW 7/7 (1914)
 1. Con moto
 2. Ballada
 3. Allegretto
 4. Adagio
IGOR STRAVINSKY (1882-1971) trans. Igor Stravinsky & Samuel Dushkin
Divertimento from "Le baiser de la fée" (1928, trans. 1934, rev. 1949)
 1. Sinfonia
 2. Danses Suisses
 3. Scherzo (Au Moulin)
 4. Pas de deux
 a) Adagio
 b) Variation
 c) Coda
FRITZ KREISLER (1875-1962)
 Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta (1948)
Recorded at Fraser Performance Studio, WGBH, Boston
18 – 21 August 2015
Benjamin Beilman – violin
Yekwon Sunwoo – piano
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