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“Kraus played with radiant vitality…First Class!”
May 28th, 2014 by Andrew Kraus

HenseltAndKrausCroppedFinalPictured here with the commemorative statue of composer, Adolph von Henselt in von Henselt’s home town of Schwabach, Germany,  Andrew Kraus presented a recital, Henselt in Context, on April 23, 2014, in the “Stadt Kasten”*** in Feuchtwangen, Germany. Kraus was a featured soloist in the 27th Annual International Feuchtwanger Piano Festival.  The program featured 17 pieces pairing works by Adolph von Henselt with those by better known composers including Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt.

The concert was well received by the general public as well as by the local critic.  In an email,one concert goer wrote, “… at your concert, my heart was happy…”.

Henselt in Context – Des Abends from Andrew Kraus on Vimeo.
This is the opening pair of pieces from the  ”Henselt in Context” concert.

Here follows a translation of a review by Elke Walter in the Frankische Landeszeitung, Nr. 95, 25 published in Ansbach, Bavaria on April 25, 2014.

“Recalling a Piano Virtuoso: At the Feuchtwangen Piano Festival Andrew Kraus devotes himself to Adolph von Henselt”

FEUCHTWANGEN – During his lifetime he was called the “German Chopin” – Robert Schumann even named him “God at the Piano” – the German composer, music instructor, and piano virtuoso – Adolph von Henselt. Unfortunately, he has fallen into oblivion. The American pianist, Andrew Kraus, commemorated this virtuoso musician’s 200th birthday as part of the 27th Feuchtwangen Piano Festival.

Henselt, born in Schwabach in 1814, was considered one of the most famous pianists of his time. Until his death in 1889, he was for many decades the imperial court pianist of the Empress, inspector of musical studies in St. Petersburg, and co-founder of the Russian piano school.

Kraus designed the evening after an interesting scheme: a work from Henselt countered with a thematically appropriate composition of a contemporary colleague. In the beginning, he chose Henselt’s “Wiegenlied, op.45.” Kraus set the lullaby in conjunction with Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) fantasy piece, “Des Abends op.12,1.” Beautiful sounding melodic arches between dream and fantasy awaken passion. With great sensibility and enormous ease, the American maneuvered through Henselt’s works: “Repos d’Amour,” “Poeme d’Amour,” and the “Toccatina, op.25” – impressively interpreted. Perfectly complementary compositions from Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) fit superbly with the pieces. Only in comparison did the great virtuosity of each individual show: emotionally dramatic, rapturously fluid, or blazingly fast. Kraus proved to be like a sensitive “piano whisperer” and nimbly acrobatic with his fingers at the keyboard which lent soul to the sound of the pieces. Gently dreaming or passionately moved, full of compositional refinement… musical impressions of gondolas and the “Ave Maria” by Henselt and Liszt were equally played out with the same radiant vitality. The “Morceau de Salon, op.14,” an adaptation by Liszt’s instructor, the Viennese Carl Czerny (1791-1857), set an invigorating closing chord.

With his highly sensitive interpretive art, Kraus succeeded in presenting a touching tribute to the Schwabacher piano virtuoso, Adolph von Henselt – and simultaneously piano music of the romantic. First Class.

Here is a link to the original review.

Here is a link to the program.

Now accepting bookings for 2014-2015 season.
“Henselt in Context” is offered as a stand alone recital or, in conjunction with a half-day master class in academic settings.
Inquiries:  please use the contact form here.

***The “Stadt Kasten” is a half timbered structure located in the main church square of the City of Feuchtwangen. It was originally built in 1565 as a barn. Today, the building is used for concerts, plays and other cultural events year round

 

 

 

Expert Accompanying and Recording Services
Nov 24th, 2012 by Andrew Kraus


With Joshua Rosen in his Horn Concerto Spring 2012
Photo (c) 2012 Eric Zhang, Greenbelt in 2012 Weblog

Recitals—Competitions—Auditions—Master Classes—Recordings
At  my studio — on location — or the studio of your choice

Results count, whether it’s competition for a prize, a scholarship, admission to a prestigious college or workshop, or a recital performance. Talent, hard work, a fine instrument or voice, the right teachers and coaches are all necessary. Yet, with all those things in place, results may be less than satisfactory if the accompanist collaborator is not up to the task.

Working with the right pianist is a critical part of any winner’s success strategy.

Recognized for his work as an accomplished and sensitive collaborator as well as for his work coaching emerging performers,  Andrew Kraus has accompanied competition winners around the Washington, DC area with recent successes at PVYO Concerto Competition, WPAS Feder Competition, Asian American Music Society, Friday Morning Music Club Strings Competition,  and the National Philharmonic Concerto Competition, Frederick Symphony Competition.

“..the pianist who listens.”
Robert Dick, Flutist & Recording Artist, Inventor of the Glissando Headjoint®

“…accompanied our daughter , Aiden Kane, resulting  in several first place wins and placement in extremely competitive summer camps…Andrew Kraus is a fantastic pianist and sensitive collaborator, able to master complex, technically challenging music quickly…”.
— Martin and Adrienne Kane, Montgomery Village, MD

“He is a strong pianist, with a solid virtuoso technique. In fact, I do not think there is anything he cannot do at a keyboard.”
Joan Dornemann, Assistant Conductor, The Metropolitan Opera

Book your session with Andrew Kraus by phone at 3 ZERO 1 – FOUR 6 ZERO – 52 SIX 9,
or by email here: www.andrewkraus.com/contact

Audio Samples at www.AndrewKraus.com/listen
Video Samples at www.AndrewKraus.com/look

 

Mantovani 2009 China Tour!
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

I know this is “old news” for now, but some of my friends and fans have asked me to write about my experiences on the tour, post some photos, etc. So, in the tradition of much earlier writers, here starts the serialized story of the tour as experienced by yours truly.

Disclaimer: the opinions and views expressed in this series are my own, and in no way are to be construed as “official” Mantovani content.

I took this photo at Pudong Airport around 2AM Shanghai, China Time, after about 28 hours of air travel, after two days with 6 hours of sleep. We flew from Orlando, then changed planes for the trans-Pacific flight in San Francisco.

After making it through customs and immigration, having my passport checked and all of that hoo-ha, I was finally IN CHINA, at least outside the quarantine area of the airport. Wallking inside the nearly deserted domestic terminal had a certain surreal quality to it – acres of polished terrazzo floors, a very strange ceiling with what appeared to be spikes sticking through it, a walk way stretching to what seemed like infinity.

Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Beijing Traffic Cop
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

One of the cool things for me about traveling to a foreign country, whether it’s business, pleasure, or in this case, pleasurable business, is savoring the differences from home.

In this photo a Beijing traffic cop keeps an eye on things, doing his best to maintain order in a place with traffic jams that actually make traffic in the Washington, DC area where I live seem light. Traffic was so heavy and so unpredictable, that the orchestra usually left our hotel around 4PM so we were assured of arriving at the theaters somewhere between one to two hours later. Better to get there with an hour to kill than to race in just as the curtain was about to arrive, the audience in place.

Coming Next: 7 concerts, 5 cities, 9 days

Mantovani 2009 China Tour: The Itinerary
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

China Itinerary

One thing to remember about an orchestra tour is the sheer amount of actual travel involved, particularly in a BIG country like China. Despite the best efforts of our in country tour hosts and promoters, the Zhang Brothers, Mag Jian and Jiao, and Jiajia Shu Fong (AKA “Beth”, herder of cats and musicians), the travel was arduous; the amount of sleep and time for sight-seeing, unfortunately, minimal. But hey, don’t pity us, we still had a heck of a good time, at least I know I did.

For the detail oriented:

  • First leg: Orlando to Guangzho via Shanghai
    • 6 hours of sleep in Orlando, bus trip to airport, check-in, 7AM flight to San Francisco
    • Noonish Flight from San Francisco to Pudang (Shanghai), China, go through customs and immiigration, arrive waiting area for in-country flight 2AM local time
    • Flight from Shanghai to Guangzho, arrive at hotel 3:30AM local time, some time Twilight Zone Time
  • Performances and Travel in China
    • Perform Guangzho, dinner at lovely restaurant,
      Guangzho Dinner Choices

      So Many, Many Choices...

      back to bed at midnight, up next morning by 6AM for…

    • Flight from Guangzho to Wuhan
    • Perform that night in Wuhan (yawn), luxuriate in extra sleep next morning and some time off, then up early next day for flight to Beijing
    • Perform that night in Beijing and again, the next night, up early the 2nd Beijing morning for…
    • Flight to Shanghai
    • Perform in Shanghai, next morning off, 2nd performance and late night dinner there, then up early for…
    • Road trip via bus to Huangzho, perform that last and final night, then…
  • Tour is over and flying home

Next post - Shanghai: Skyline to Subway

Mantovani 2009 China Tour – Meet the Conductor
Jan 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus
Barry and the Tiger

Barry Knight and Friend

Beyond a certain number, much as we musicians might hate to admit it, working with a fabulous conductor really can really help us combine our musical talents and egos in the most beneficial way with the end result being a performance people would want to hear. It also takes a person with a certain skill, some would say, the ability to “herd cats”, to be a really fine conductor. As can seen in this photo, Barry has that skill in spades.

Having had the privilege to work with Barry, I believe he tells it like it is in his Facebook profile: “I’m a hopeless romantic at heart… I love lots of music, Italian Operas (esp.Puccini) & Russian orchestral works & lots of good light, popular, big band & middle of road music, as long as it’s good of its kind”.

And there’s evidence that the critics think Barry good as his word. Milton Kaine, in the October 2000 issue of American Record Guide, wrote, “Conductor Barry Knight is apparently an expert on British light music and does a commendable job”.

Barry Knight I also witnessed Barry’s ability to charm audiences, to communicate across cultures and languages, to make music available, accesible and enjoyable for people.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way about Barry. The concert reviewer in Wuhan devoted several paragraphs of his review to him:

“The English conductor, a Anthony Hopkins look-a-like, also doubled up as the narrator. During opening, his flawless Chinese greeting of “Good evening friends of Wuhan. Welcome to Mantovani’s beautiful music” gave the audience a pleasant surprise. After that, for every 2 pieces they performed, he would explain [sic] them in simple Chinese. When he was introducing the theme song of “West Side Story”, Tonight, he told the audience, this is a similar story to Romeo and Juliet, only the boy ‘Argh’ in the end – coupled with his imitation of ‘strangling of throat’, the audience laughed audibly in appreciation. Next when he was introducing the “007” theme song You Only Live Twice, he did a gun draw act just like Bond while saying ‘007’ in Chinese. Before the performance for the “Superman” theme song, he even whipped out a blue Superman top with a ‘S’ symbol and asked the ladies if they are willing to date this muscular gentleman.

“Through his narration, the audience got to know about some other things besides the programme notes; “Limelight” was by Charlie Chaplin, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes gave him a ‘gliding in the sky’ feel and he also mentioned that two members of the Orchestra had their birthdays the day before, and they might go for a drink after the performance. The audience felt an affinity towards this elderly, humorous and easy-going gentleman.

“…and when he gave the flowers he received to a lady in the audience and kissed her hand, he was greeting with a thunderous applause.

Well done, Barry.

Well done, indeed, and, I must add, it was a lot of fun working with you.

Best Violins in the World: Made in China?
Jan 7th, 2010 by Andrew Kraus

On my way to enjoy an evening of socializing and to play some piano quartets with some musician friends I happened to be listening to a PRI show called The World. The topic being covered was the emergence of China as a place where world class violins are now being built by an old world craftsman trained in Italy after 5 years “in the country side ‘working like a peasant’” and his proteges. That artist craftsman, Zheng Quan, works at the Chinese Conservatory of Music, where, according to the PRI piece, he teaches at the only school in China to offer mandatory training as a string player for those students who want to become (Western) stringed instrument builders.

The transcript, photos and sound file can be found here: http://www.theworld.org/2010/01/06/violins-made-in-china/.

For this writer, a proud-to-be-American citizen and grandchild of immigrant parents, the report was both heartening and sobering.

I was heartened to learn that the fine arts of violin making and the playing of Western Classical violin music are now being appreciated in China, a place with a LOT of people.

I am sobered by the thought that the next generation of great instrument makers as well as players may be one that does not include our children. At the high end (hand built and custom built instruments), I worry that our own skilled instrument builders are being starved out of business for lack of interest and funding. At the middle and lower ends (mass produced instruments), I worry that our we may have already lost our production capacity, infrastructure and work force to the pressures for profit and subsequent “off-shoring” of manufacturing plants and jobs. As for players and singers, the pressure is on them from society in general and concerned for their welfare parents, to keep music as a hobby learned in childhood and adolescence, not to be confused with a way to make a living as an adult.

Those are my thoughts and feelings on the subject topic. I welcome yours as comments to this post and wish you a good day whatever day you happen to read it.

Bye-Bye Awful ‘Aughts
Dec 28th, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

I don’t know anybody, at least I don’t believe I know anybody, who’s doing better now than they were in 1999, the last year of the Twentieth Century – but then, I’m a working musician, and I don’t have an office on the executive floor at Goldman & Sachs or Bank of America or… you take my point.

This post being on a blog primarily concerned with music as art and inevitably with music as business, I want to swing the spotlight around to focus on your experience of the ‘Aughts, particularly if you’re a working musician.

If it’s the case that you’re doing better, how’d you make that happen?

If it’s the case that you’re not doing as well, what happened? Did the funding for your organization dry up (think Baltimore Lyric Opera, for example)? Are people spending less on music lessons for their kids? Are you being paid on time? Is it harder to find students? gigs?

And “how is Andrew Kraus doing?”, you ask.

I’m holding my own, and had some great experiences in 2009 including being a guest soloist with the Mantovani Orchestra on their China Tour in the Spring. I’ve started collaborating regularly with two wonderful musicians: Laurien Laufman – Cellist, and Jennifer Paschal – Soprano. You can see details of upcoming recitals with both of them on my events page.

Enough for now about me and my views on this topic. How about you?

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