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University of Iowa News Release

Feb. 3, 2003

David Finckel And Wu Han Will Premiere Auerbach Sonata At UI

Cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han return to the University of Iowa for a three-day residency, concluding with a Hancher Auditorium-sponsored all-Russian concert at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19 in Clapp Recital Hall.

Other public residency activities will include a free mini-concert at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, in the atrium of the John Colloton Pavilion of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and a master class at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 in Harper Hall of the UI Voxman Music Building. The public is invited to observe the master class free of charge.

In addition to the Sonata for Cello and Piano by Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff's Sonata for Cello and Piano, the Feb. 19 concert will feature the world premiere of the Sonata No. 1 for Violoncello and Piano by Lera Auerbach, a shining light of the newest generation of Russian composers.

Auerbach, who was born in Siberia and trained at the Juilliard School in New York, is a modern Renaissance woman -- pianist, composer, prose writer and poet -- still in her 20s. Learn more at .

The Shostakovich and Rachmaninoff sonatas, two of the monumental works of the cello-piano repertoire, are included on "Russian Classics," which was released by the ArtistLed label in 2001 to rave reviews. Calling the release a "smashing collection," Gwendolyn Freed of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote, "It's hard to keep from listening to this disc over and over."

Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich were at the keyboard when their sonatas were premiered -- Rachmaninoff's in 1901 and Shostakovich's in 1934.

Written shortly after the success of Rachmaninoff's second piano concerto, his cello sonata is filled with the romantic passion and soaring lyricism that has made his work a favorite with audiences.

Writing for the Strad, Joanne Talbot wrote of the Finckel/Wu Han performance, "The Rachmaninov is so overwhelmingly passionate that, even as a crusty critic, I was compelled to press the repeat button on my CD player. This is high-voltage playing with a searing intensity in the outer movements coupled with an exquisite sensitivity in the Andante. Moreover they have an almost unrivalled feeling for the ebb and flow of this music."

Calling the Shostakovich sonata "one of the cornerstones of the repertoire" critic Craig Smith wrote, "Searching, probing and philosophical as it is, it's also divinely positive and hopeful. Shostakovich had an arduous artistic life, but he seldom lost confidence in the power of art to touch and heal."

In a review of Russian Classics in the Tucson Citizen, critic Dan Buckley wrote of the Shostakovich recording, "Lyrical and expressive, witty and anguished, passionate and moody, they capture Shostakovich's landscape of emotional twists and turns to sleek perfection."

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," observes Finckel, the cellist of the Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet. "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.

Their unanimity of musical intent led to the founding of 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 -- -- through a toll-free phone number -- 1-888-ArtLedCD, and at their concerts.

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."

"Artistic integrity is so important to both of us," Wu Han says. "We've found a way to present our work in the most idealistic way. And that's a privilege so few musicians have today."

Finckel adds, "To me, one of the things that's scary about the classical industry these days is the way big companies are owned by larger corporations. They're a division of this or that, which means they're compelled to make money. The company is just a branch, and the person at the top is not someone who is driven by music.

"You can't calculate your way to a classical music career, unless you want to do it in a very short term. The things that last have innate quality, and quality like that doesn't come from trying to do something better or different just for the sake of doing it. It comes from looking very deep inside yourself and the material you're working with and bringing it to your audience in a very convincing way. And that's really all we care about."

Describing the ArtistLed discs, Terry Teachout concluded, "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."

Tickets for the Feb. 19 concert are $28 ($10 for UI students, $22.40 for senior citizens and half price for audience members 17 and younger) from the Hancher box office.

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website: .

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

Mercy Iowa City is the corporate sponsor of the Finckel/Wu Han concert, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

PHOTOS are available at .