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Release: March 19, 1999

(NOTE TO EDITORS: You can contact David Finckel and Wu Han by e-mail at

'We could make beautiful music together:' Cellist Finckel and pianist Wu Han will, at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The spousal duo of cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han will perform works by Beethoven, Alfred Schnittke and Cesar Franck at 8 p.m. Monday, April 5 in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

The concert, presented by Hancher Auditorium, will feature Beethoven's Sonata for Piano and Cello in F Major, Schnittke's 1978 Sonata for Cello and Piano, and Franck's Sonata in A Major.

Finckel and Wu Han, who have formed their own recording label and marketed over the internet to maintain artistic control, will discuss how musicians can have greater control over their careers at 1:30 p.m. April 5 in Clapp Recital Hall. The discussion, aimed particularly at students in the UI School of Music, will be open to the public free of charge.

Finckel and Wu Han are partners in every respect -- as a married couple with a child, as business colleagues and as musicians. "What's really fortunate in our relationship is that we have such a good musical partnership," Finckel observes. "No matter how rough going the business is, we rarely have any major disagreements musically." The first time they played together, they agree, they knew they were meant for each other.

But Wu Han points out that they have differences that become practical strengths. "I'm the adventurous one," she asserts. "If I see a pool, I jump right in. David has to research all the water temperatures first. I don't have his organizational skills, but I'm the one who's always pushing him. And he has pushed me to be more thoughtful."

Their differences of personality and unanimity of musical intent converged when, in collaboration with a friend who is an ace recording engineer, Finckel and Wu Han founded the ArtistLed recording company.

ArtistLed operates with complete independence from the mainstream recording industry. As the audiophile "indie" rebels of classical recording, Finckel and Wu Han also managed to end-run the traditional corporate distribution system, marketing their CDs not in stores but through a site on the World Wide Web -- -- and through a toll-free phone number -- 1-888-ArtLedCD.

Finckel's sensitivity to sound reproduction was on display last fall when he and his colleagues in the Grammy-winning Emerson String Quartet visited the UI for two Hancher-sponsored concerts. That visit included an educational event broadcast live on the Iowa City Public Library's cable channel, and Finckel fiddled with the microphone placement until he was satisfied that the sound would be as clear and clean and possible -- with stunning results.

Finckel says that the "mom and pop" recording enterprise he and Wu Han have established has an affinity to rock's garage bands: "We have a similarity to pop musicians who have always been more guerrilla style. We're not depending on the establishment to make us a career.

"We're in the frame of mind that technology is going to help save the arts. To a great extent, because the arts have gotten very expensive to produce, they have gotten very commercial. And whenever anything gets commercial, people tend to get distracted from the quality of the work. I guess that's understandable, but we're very optimistic that people will always return to quality. And so far, the people haven't left us -- they've followed us.

"It's a matter of trust. When somebody buys one of our records, they know we've made it for no other reason than to make a great recording."

Response to the Finckel/Wu Han CDs has been so positive, in fact, that they have been required to replenish their stocks to meet the demand. Included in their discography are the Beethoven and Franck compositions they will perform on April 5.

Newday critic Justin Davidson summarized their recordings: "Technique and technology are equally transparent on these recordings, and though they are the product of endless tinkering and elaborate editing, the performances come off as natural, seamless and pure. The playing is thrillingly bright and brilliant when it needs to be, but there is magic, too."

Charles Michener of the BBC Music Magazine concluded, "these discs are reproductions of astonishing clarity, intimacy and, above all, honesty.. They provide the rare feeling that you are actually hearing the music as it is being made." And Terry Teachout proclaimed, "The results, not to put too fine a point on it, are extraordinary. Not only can you smell the spontaneity, but you can also feel the integrity -- and the hard work that backs it up."

The 300,000-circulation BBC Music Magazine gave the duo's enterprise a substantial boost when it included one of their CDs with a 1997 issue, and invited the readers' responses. The readers were almost uniformly awestruck: "It enthused me from start to finish," "If all music was recorded with such enthusiasm I could become a chamber music addict," "To me it is tremendously involving, about as near as most of us will every get to being part of a performance," "What we hear with real clarity is the explosive intimacy of art."

The Holiday Inn -- Iowa City is the corporate sponsor of the David Finckel and Wu Han concert through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the April 5 concert are $20 ($16 for UI students and senior citizens, and $10 for audience members 17 and younger).

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.