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Release: Sept. 10, 1999

Pianist Tsachor to present familiar, unfamiliar versions of Romantic pieces Sept. 26

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pianist Uriel Tsachor will present a free recital of music from the heart of the German Romantic repertoire -- works by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms -- along with a piece by Israeli composer Paul Ben-Haim, at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, in Clapp Recital Hall on the University of Iowa campus.

In his recent recordings and the recitals he has given on campus since he joined the UI music faculty in 1988, Tsachor has explored unfamiliar ways of hearing works from the mainstream of 19th-century music. Like many performers today, he has gone beyond the standard repertoire, but unlike some, he does not play unknown works just for their novelty value.

Instead, Tsachor's explorations have taken two principal directions: he has played familiar piano pieces in unfamiliar editions, discovering new expressive possibilities for well known music; and he has played piano versions of pieces that are better known from other media, bringing those works into a new realm of sound. Both approaches are represented in the program for the Sept. 26 recital.

The program will include four of Mendelssohn's popular "Songs without Words" -- shorter piano pieces that have a lyrical, or song-like quality. For one of the four -- the "Song without Words" in B minor, op. 30 no. 4 -- Tsachor will be using the little known British edition instead of the more standard German edition. Both editions appeared in the composer's lifetime, and according to Tsachor, both were authorized by Mendelssohn.

"These pieces were so popular they were published in different editions all over Europe," Tsachor said. "Today, everyone plays the German edition, but I find the British edition to be better. The differences are slight, but the British edition is more cheerful. It is almost jubilant, where the German edition is much more subdued in mood."

In an even more unusual departure from familiar territory, Tsachor will play Brahms's own solo piano arrangement of the second movement of his String Sextet in B-flat, op. 18. "This is one of several piano transcriptions that Brahms made, always on Sept. 13, which was the birthday of his good friend Clara Schumann," Tsachor explained.

"This arrangement was sent to Clara in1860, exactly one year after he had finished the Sextet. That was a piece that Clara especially loved, so Brahms sent her the piano arrangement as a birthday present. Although it is a slow piece, it is very difficult. This was definitely intended for one of the finest pianists of the times, which Clara was. Brahms did not take even a single note out of the score -- it is that faithful to the original, which makes it very hard to play."

Another piece on the program -- heard in its usual solo piano format -- is also related to Clara Schumann. Robert Schumann's Fantasy in C major, op. 17, one of the most challenging and revered pieces in the piano repertoire, was written 1836-38, during a period when the young composer was separated from Clara, then his bride-to-be.

"The piece is full of expressions of yearning and abrupt, violent mood changes," Tsachor said. "It is one of Schumann's stormiest and desperate-sounding pieces, but at the same time, it's a wonderfully balanced piece. Schumann successfully joins all the different moods and feelings with a mature, balanced technique, so the Fantasy is really a masterpiece."

Two other works on the program will be Ben-Haim's Nocturne, op. 20b, a gloomy, expressive combination of neo-Romantic style with long chains of mid-Eastern melismatic motives; and to close the recital, Brahms's Scherzo, op. 4, in E-flat minor -- the very earliest known piece by Brahms, which Tsachor describes as "young, young Brahms, but where you can see all the great pianistic things to come."

Tsachor joined the faculty of the UI School of Music in the fall of 1988. The first prize-winner of the Bosendorfer Empire International Competition in 1986, the second prize-winner of the Busoni Competition in 1985 and a laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in 1983, he is a graduate of the Rubin Academy in Tel-Aviv, Israel, and the Juilliard School in New York. He has performed as a soloist in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, New York, Chicago, Vienna, Paris, and other cities around the world.

Tsachor has performed with the Israel Philharmonic by invitation from Zubin Mehta. He has also appeared as soloist with the New York City Symphony, the Teatro La Fenice Symphony in Venice and the National Orchestra of Belgium, among others. He has performed both live and in recordings for radio and television stations in Israel, Europe and the United States, and he has made recordings for the EMI, Musical Heritage Society, PHONIC, DIVOX, Olympia and EMS labels.

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