“Kraus played with radiant vitality…First Class!”
Pictured here with the commemorative statue of composer, Adolph von Henselt in von Henselt’s hometown 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 concertgoer wrote, “… at your concert, my heart was happy…”.
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.
"Andrew Kraus’ hands literally flew…"
From a blog posting, “Music, Music!” at Creatively Christina of a recital with Monica Harwood, Soprano and Yeon Jee Sohn, Oboe, at The National League of Pen Women, Pen Arts Center, in Washington, DC, of the music of An-Ming Wang:
What a treat! The compositions introduced Chinese pentatonic music. Andrew explained how the music contained lots of fourths and fifths, and played parts of the first piece, “The Flowers” to illustrate. Pentatonic music uses a five-note scale – played on the black keys of the piano. (Debussy used a lot of fourths and fifths.)
Wang An Ming’s “Fantasy on Sakura,” the first oboe piece, was absolutely beautiful. Based on an Oriental folk song, the 2012 piece featured a melodic oboe over a complicated piano accompaniment.
Monica Harward, with her light lyric soprano voice, tenderly sang “Laudamus Te” which contrasted with the amusing “Dazzling Jewels” song about a woman who loved trinkets and jewels. Monica’s body language and facial expressions captured the mood entertainingly.
But Andrew Krauss’s piano virtuoso was incredible. His hands literally flew, crossed over and intertwined in the final piece “Sea Scape,” which was a musical visit to the stormy beach. He said was “a monster to play” – challenging and intricate, but beautiful…”.
Accolades: “Bravo Shouted the Audience…”
From a review in the Diepholzer Kreisblatt on August 12, 2012, of a recital featuring eleven pianists, participants in Peter Feuchtwanger’s nineteenth international master class at the Musik Akademie Duemmersee in Huede, Germany, some nice words about my playing…
“Bravo Shouted the Audience”
“Andrew Kraus of [sic] Rock Will [Rockville] had the longest journey, [and this was his] second time taking lessons from [Peter] Feuchtwanger. With four short pieces: one by American [pianist and composer] David Saperton whose last pupil he was himself, [Cygnes Noir, by] the Frenchman with Hungarian roots Isidore Philipp, [and] the two Russians Eduard Schütt and Sergei Mikhailovich Lyapunov, Kraus delighted the audience with his virtuoso interpretation in Lemförde and inspired them to ‘bravo’ and ‘encore’…”
”Whether playing blues, German lieder, …harpsichord, or Gilbert and Sullivan, Maestro Kraus was a complete master”…
–Mark Lowenstein, Greenbelt Patch.
New CD – “A Vintage Christmas” with Laura Mills
I am pleased to announce the release of a new album – Laura Mills, A Vintage Christmas, and my part in it.
Yours truly had a great time “laying down the piano parts” with her in my Rockville studio for 8 of the 11 tracks on the album.
I believe you’ll agree that Laura Mills has a terrific voice, and she does a great job using it to share her heart with us and love for the songs on this album. From ”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”, to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and “O Holy Night”, these songs are sure to put you in that special Christmas mood.
“Song Meets Story”
In April 2011, I worked with Soprano, Mary Gresock, to introduce over 900 Charlottesville area students to the joys of opera in an outreach program sponsored by Ash Lawn Opera. Mary Gresock and I were interviewed by Adrienne Lawrence, a reporter with The Frederick News-Post, and the interview was the lead story in the Lifestyle section of their website this week.
“Andrew was an incredibly supportive and versatile pianist in Ash Lawn Opera’s Education and Outreach performances in 2011. He supported soprano and Teaching Artist, Mary Gresock, in 14 performances for over 900 children in Albemarle County and graciously played in any key that Mary or the children needed. It’s rare to find such a collaborative and enthusiastic pianist!”
Michelle Krisel, General Director, Ash Lawn Opera Festival
“He is a pleasure to work with — an extremely accomplished pianist who offers strong collaborative support to his fellow performers.”
Elizabeth (Liz) Daniels, M.M., B.A., maintains a large private voice studio in Silver Spring, MD and is on the adjunct voice faculty at The Curtis Institute of Music and The Catholic University of America. She also is a master voice teacher for the Washington National Opera Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.
“He is a fine pianist, a true artist, and a very rare combination of virtuoso and collaborator.” –In Dal Choi, Vocal Area Coordinator, James Madison University School of Music