Schubert Mystery Tour

May 8th, 2009

This Friday and Saturday, May 8 and May 9, 2009, at 8 pm, violinist Mark Peskanov and pianist Steven Beck perform works by Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert. Sunday, May 10, 2009, at 3 pm, celebrate Mother’s Day with the music of Schubert, Mozart and Dvorak played by Dmitry Berlinsky, violin, Inbal Segev, cello and William Wolfram, piano.

Dear Music Lovers,

I think I was in a deep Bargemusic trance for the last 6 months — over 100 concerts went by just in one humongous breath. The summer calendar is ready to be printed; it is still amazing to me how it all finally comes together — some artists were engaged a year ago and their programs were decided almost as far in advance, and the last but not the least cello performer was just engaged last night.

Now I am completely focusing on the most beautiful creation — Schubert Fantasy, which I am privileged to perform this Friday & Saturday with Steven Beck, who sounded particularly in great form the last few days during our rehearsals. Playing the Schubert Fantasy brings me the great satisfaction of being a violinist, musician and a performer; it can transport you as far and anywhere you wish to travel. This music has all the fuel you’ll need, and we don’t even need the seat belts, so let’s go on our mystery tour.

Lots of love,
Mark Peskanov

Two and a Half Months Later

October 6th, 2008

On Friday at 8pm, the “Here and Now: American Contemporary Music Series” continues with The iO Quartet, The 85th St. Wind Quintet and guest pianist Marc Peloquin playing works by David Shohl. On Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm, violinist Mayumi Fujikawa, cellist Richard Markson and pianist Gerald Robbins play works by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.

Dear Music Lovers,

Two and a half months and fifty concerts later: I want express my great gratitude to all of you who come to our concerts, to all the musicians who open their gifts to you on our stage, and to the generosity of the press. Between all of you, you have generated great energy that propelled us rapidly yet gently through the second half of our summer calendar and into the fall.

During that time, Steven Beck successfully completed his Beethoven-a-thon (performing all 32 piano sonatas—see review here). We finally found the appropriate size tympani for the Manhattan Symphonee so they could fit through our back door (see “Shimmering Technique & Sound” for the New York Sun review of their performance). Congratulations to pianist David Holzman in his Bargemusic recital debut on August 1st (see New York Times review, “Floating, Personalizing and Performing”), as well as to our composers and performers during our unforgettable Labor Day Music Festival (see New York Times review here).  How about the challenging programs by the Amarnet, Voxare, and Zukovsky String Quartets (see reviews here and here), the Mozart clarinet quintet with Alexander Fiterstein, the Real Quiet Trio (see review in the New York Times here), and the special treat for me: playing the Brahms sextet on viola with wonderful cellist David Sawyer and the Shangai Quartet. Wow!

This Friday I’d like to invite you to David Shohl’s show in our Here and Now: Contemporary American Music series. You can tell how well he is liked just by seeing how many fine musicians are coming to play his compositions. This Saturday and Sunday a good colleague and most gifted musician Gerald Robbins is coming with two of his colleagues from the UK (from Gerald’s London years, where he performed extensively with the great Nathan Millstein, in addition to his many solo engagements). One of their pieces on the program is a Tchaikovsky Piano Trio, which is a very appropriate choice since the violinist, Mayumi Fujikawa, is a top winner of the Tchaikovsky International Competition.

I am looking forward to seeing you, Dear Music Lovers, at the Barge!

Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

Two Special Pianists

July 11th, 2008

On Friday at 8 pm, pianist Anya Alexeyev plays works by Haydn, Schumann, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff. On Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 4 pm, violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Adrian Daurov and pianist Anya Alexeyev play works by Prokofiev, Schnittke and Arensky.

Dear Music Lovers,

This weekend our Barge is enjoying the company of a very gifted pianist, Anya Alexeyev. She visited us last summer when she performed a solo piano recital and also played four hands with her father Dmitri Alexeyev. (Many of you probably heard of him. He is one of the most distinguished musicians appearing today, due to his numerous victories at the most prestigious international competitions. He has been performing in major concerts venues for many years, both as soloist with the major orchestras and in solo recitals, and sometimes in chamber music concerts, like he has done the last 3 or 4 years at the Bargemusic.)

Tonight Anya is doing a solo piano recital of her favorite pieces (as she confessed to me earlier this week during our rehearsals). I would describe her playing as very natural and expressive. She plays with great clarity and strength. I wish she lived closer by—this way you, dear music lovers, would have a chance to hear her more often.

Next Wednesday at the Barge, Steven Beck starts his Beethovenathon. During four concerts on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday he will perform sixteen sonatas. I know he has been practicing about sixteen hours a day for a while now and he tells me he is having a blast doing it. I am not surprised. Steven has been challenged many times. Let me tell you about my first experience with him.

Six summers ago I invited him to perform with me at the Barge for his debut performance. About six weeks before the concert I get a phone call—Steven has been in a terrible car accident: collapsed lungs! Broken Hands! Broken jaw! Just to name a few of the horrible injuries he suffered. Fast forward six weeks later—Bargemusic stage, Mr. Beck is at the piano with his wired jaws, metal bolts in his both hands and who knows what else, playing a Mozart Sonata with me—and beautifully—a total miracle…

See you at Barge,
Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

Happy 4th of July!

July 3rd, 2008

On Thursday at 8pm, Jazz Night features guitarists Howard Alden and Bucky Pizzarelli. On Friday at 7pm, Bargemusic celebrates Independence Day with the Voxare Quartet and guest violinist, Mark Peskanov, playing works by Mozart and Dvorak. On Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm, violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park play works by Haydn, Beethoven and Dvorak.

Dear Music Lovers,

What an exhilarating week we just had!

This past Friday, NeoLIT ensemble, in their Bargemusic debut, gave an exciting performance of many interesting new compositions by American women composers.

And if that was not exciting enough, we had a special guest in attendance-Steve Smith, prominent music writer-and this time he was assigned by the New York Times to review this concert. Fast forward two days later: I am at the computer at 1am reading the music review of our concert from the New York Times website. It’s a beautiful review, where the writer compliments the musicians for their performance, composers for their compositions and in his words, Bargemusic for its “admirable Here and Now series, which celebrates contemporary American music.”

This Thursday, two of the very finest guitar players you’ll ever hear are performing here. And Friday is our big celebration of Independence Day.

Fast rewind to the early 70s in an Odessa, Soviet Union, movie theater: I am with a friend of mine and his mother watching a French comedy titled something like “Inspector Cousteau in New York.” I was twelve and for the first time I was seeing New York City. It was totally overwhelming. It was in color. I saw the Statue of Liberty, China Town and the Empire State Building. I have no idea how this movie passed the censorship back then. At the end of the film, I was full of tears and so was my friend. In that moment, we both felt hopeless behind the Iron Curtain. I could never have imagined then how I would be practically holding the hand of the Statue of Liberty from our Bargemusic tented roof this Friday.

Happy Independence Day and Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

Musicians and Mothers

June 23rd, 2008

On Thursday at 8pm, Jazz Night features Ted Kooshian’s Standard Orbit Quartet. On Friday at 8pm, in the debut performance of the Neolit Ensemble, flautist Amelia Lukas, cellist Victoria Bass and pianist Katya Mihailova continue our Here and Now Series with Celebrating American Contemporary Women Composers. On Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 4pm, violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Inbal Segev and pianist Navah Perlman play works by Mozart, Brahms and Shostakovich.

Dear Music Lovers,

This last week, we presented five concerts and three different programs on the Barge. Jeffrey Swann performed in four of them: two solo recitals and two with the Voxare Quartet, with whom he played Mozart and Chopin concertos, both beautifully and excitingly. The Voxare Quartet, in their debut at the Barge, provided excellent support. They also showed a lot of character. Earlier that week, their viola player, Erik Peterson, became very sick with a 104 degree temperature. He had to be rushed to the hospital (later the tests showed that he had a case of salmonella poisoning). I don’t know how, but he took some antibiotics and there he was, quite a bit pale on the Bargemusic stage, in top form, playing to Saturday’s full house.

This weekend, I’ll be sharing the Bargemusic stage with two lovely young ladies, whom I have known for quite a few years: cellist Inbal Segev and pianist Navah Perlman. They are both very fine performers. I have invited each of them to perform at the Barge many times over the years, but this is not all they have in common. They’re both young mothers. Both have given birth to twins. Between the two of them, they’ve got seven children!!!!!!! Navah is ahead right now, with one more. The score is pretty close: it’s four to three. I think it’s remarkable, because not only are they such dedicated mothers, but also they continue to maintain a concert schedule. I rehearsed with both of them last week and they were in excellent form. I think maybe even better than before. If I was a mother (and of course I’m not) and if I had to manage taking care of children while performing concerts (and of course I don’t), they would be my source of inspiration. Especially, since I haven’t been in touch with Clara Schumann for years now.

Also, this Friday at Bargemusic: the debut of a new, young and gifted group - Neolit Ensemble.

Looking forward to seeing you, dear music lovers.

Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

Invaluable Experience

June 19th, 2008

On Thursday at 8 pm, Jazz Night features saxophonists Logan Richardson and Jeremy Viner, bassist Chris Tordini, pianist Jesse Elder and drummer Nasheet Waits. On Friday at 8 pm, pianist Jeffrey Swann presents “Music and Nature,” a program of works by Schumann, Liszt, Messiaen and Debussy. On Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 4 pm, Jeffrey Swann and the Voxare Quartet play works by Schubert, Mozart and Chopin.

Dear Music Lovers,

Here is a little summary of the first 18 days of our summer calendar: The artists, through their amazing effort and skills, bring to life works of more than 40 composers—and you, dear music lovers, with your great presence and participation in partnership with the artists, help to create great concert performances.

Last weekend André-Michel Schub played Beethoven trios with great style. He is certainly one of the best musicians around. Most of you probably remember when he won the First Prize at The Van Cliburn Piano Competition. I remember my first performance with him—we played Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata at the benefit concert for Carnegie Hall.

This week, Jeffrey Swann brings his uncommon skills to the Barge—his effortless style of piano playing and deep knowledge of the pieces he performs. (He was 17 years old when he won the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition.) He also, I believe, speaks 9 different languages, besides the language of music. This weekend Jeffrey Swann will perform Mozart & Chopin concertos—a very special treat. Also I’m very pleased to introduce the young, new Voxare Quartet in their debut at the Barge. I’m so pleased that Jeffrey Swann will collaborate with them. It will be an invaluable experience for this aspiring quartet, something that I have experienced many times as a young musician. When you begin to perform with great musicians, then, I believe, the real school begins. That is what it takes, welcome to the real world. See you there!

Until then,

Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

The Bargemusic Summer Panorama

June 6th, 2008

This Friday and Saturday at 8 pm violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Adrian Daurov and pianist Olga Vinokur perform works by Mozart, Dvorak and Schubert. On Sunday at 4 pm, The Gramercy Trio plays works by Faure, Schumann and Nicholas Underhill.

Dear Music Lovers,

The good news is that I received our summer calendar in the mail a few days ago, which means most of you have had a similar experience. We’ve already been receiving many phone calls and emails from you making reservations for upcoming concerts. (It’s posted in our website as well.) Summer concerts at Bargemusic are always a breathtaking experience because the warm weather inspires you to visit our deck and also the newly tented roof before concerts and during intermissions to enjoy the great panoramic view that includes the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, and recently the Statue of Liberty (due to the removal of the old sheds on the left of the barge).

Last Sunday I enjoyed seeing and hearing Claude Frank. It was a special treat listening to his interpretation of Beethoven piano sonata No. 31. This Friday and Saturday I’m looking forward to performing with my colleagues Schubert’s great e flat trio, also known as (Welcome to Heaven), Mozart’s G Major Trio and Dvorak’s Four Romantic Pieces for Violin and Piano.

This Sunday an old friend Randy Hodgkinson is visiting us with his Gramercy Trio in an exciting program which includes Schumann’s magnificent F Major Trio. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this Sunday’s performance due to my previous engagement (a benefit concert in Bronxville, NY for the Meals on Wheels organization) but just in case… please save me one aisle seat.

Thanks and lots of love,


May 29th, 2008

Tonight at 8 pm, Bargemusic presents Jazz Night with pianist Liz Magnes. On Friday night at 8 pm, Split Second—Marc Peloquin and Roberto Hidalgo’s piano ensemble—performs works by Virgil Thompson, Mario Lavista, George Crumb, Samuel Barber and the world premiere of Steven Burke’s “Alchemy.” On Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 4 pm, violinist Andy Simionescu, cellist Denis Brott and pianist Claude Frank play works by Kodaly and Beethoven.

Dear Music Lovers,

The last two weekends were something of a rollercoaster. The Your Choice Concert Series on May 16th and 17th proved to be an exciting ordeal. People were very clear with their choices, and we did not know until an hour before the scheduled performances what we would be playing. I was on the phone with Steven Beck every few hours with new requests. We received quite a few votes both concerts. For the first concert, on Friday, the Kreutzer sonata had the same number of votes as the 4th and 5th Beethoven sonatas, but due to special circumstances (a request from a couple about to be engaged) we played it. On Saturday the program was totally different. After the program we were so lost in the moment that we asked the audience to choose the encore—one movement from any of the sonatas (there were over 40 sonatas to choose from, close to 150 movements!) After a quiet moment, a lovely woman shouted, “The last movement of Brahms’ Sonata No. 3!” It proved to be an exhilarating experience for us as performers and audience alike. In the last week of September, we will continue the Your Choice Concert Series with piano trios selected from the complete piano trios of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Maybe next time we will ask the audience to vote at least a few hours before the concert!

The concert on Sunday, May 18th featured the works of Paul Schoenfield. He made a guest appearance as a pianist, and the performance of his piece for piano four hands was very special. He had a beautiful way of communicating with the audience.

The following week, on May 24th and 25th, it was an adventurous experience playing David Del Tredici’s piano trio. It’s a masterpiece in my opinion. It is one movement without pauses—from the first note to the last, it takes over 40 minutes. It is one line, one enormous breath. Although it’s tonal it is very complex and requires tremendous energy. It is beautiful, mysterious, incredibly passionate, exciting, and hypnotic for the audience. Did I mention that is was one of the hardest trios I have ever played?

This weekend I would especially like to welcome Claude Frank, who along with cellist Laslo Varga was my chamber music collaborator in the Beethoven c minor piano trio at the Aspen Music Festival when I was about 18 years old. They were both very welcoming to me and made me feel extremely comfortable. It was a wonderful experience to play with such venerable performers; they made it so much easier for me. I would like very much to take this opportunity to give my great respect and gratitude to Claude’s late wife Lilian Kallir, a wonderful pianist with whom I performed the Mendelssohn d minor piano trio at Aspen a few years later.

Until next week,

Lots of Love,
Mark Peskanov

The Odessa Roots of the “Your Choice Concert Series”

May 14th, 2008

This Friday night at 8 pm and Saturday at 4 pm, violinist Mark Peskanov and pianist Steven Beck inaugurate the Your Choice Concert Series with a program of violin sonatas by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms. One sonata by each composer will be selected according to the popular vote. On Sunday at 4 pm, Opus Two (violinist William Terwilliger and pianist Andrew Cooperstock) with cellist Allison Eldredge and special guest pianist Paul Schoenfield present a concert of pieces by Paul Schoenfield.

Dear Music Lovers,

In a way, the Your Choice Concert Series started many years ago in Odessa, Ukraine on the 5th floor of an historic 19th century building that Pushkin used to visit in the 1820s. The building was huge—at least I thought so at the time. The first four floors had very high ceilings and the marble stairs were quite spectacular. An iron spiral staircase led from the 4th to the 5th floor, where the servants lived before the revolution.

The apartment that I was born in was on the 5th floor. My grandmother purchased that apartment after World War II. It was just one small room, and she moved there with her two daughters. Then eventually my mother married my father and they had two sons. I’m the youngest. Eventually it was five of us living in that room. We had dozens of neighbors on the 5th floor. That room had a window—a miracle window. When you looked out the window you saw a miraculous view of the Black Sea. I could see great big ships coming to the Odessa port hours before they arrived at the port. They had all different flags from around the world; that’s how I learned about the different flags. The view was totally unobstructed. If you leaned from your window to the left you could see a little bit of the most beautiful opera house. I would spend hours at the window.

I spent the first 11 years of my life in this apartment. Even though it was such a small space, all the relatives and friends would gather for anniversaries, birthdays, etc. Our grandfather had the most amazing, powerful tenor voice I ever encountered in my life. When he sang the chandelier would shake. I started to play violin when I was 7 years old. My brother had started to play piano 3 and a half years earlier and we were soon performing at all the gatherings for our relatives and their friends. Not one event occurred without us playing for most of the evening. Everybody always asked us to play all kinds of repertoire—classical and non-classical, songs they could sing along to, and music they could dance to. Somehow when we played the place seemed to be much bigger.

Bargemusic is such a place—a family place. There is a great feeling of warmth that comes from everyone who is here. The East River, the magnificent view of the Manhattan skyline, and now an unobstructed view of the Statue of Liberty magnify that feeling of abundance. From my personal experience I have found that at most venues, concerts get booked well in advance. Performers and presenters agree on a program and all the other details of the performance. As a performer planning a future concert you hope to be inspired in one or two years at 8 pm to play that particular program.

On the Barge you never know if it will be low or high tide; how quickly the ships will pass, and how powerful of a wake the audience will feel at any given moment. I thought it would be nice for a change to bring more elements of great spontaneity and unpredictability into the performance. Both Steven Beck and I hope to get some ideas of the program a few hours before the concert. However the final results of the votes will be brought to us in a sealed envelope on stage at the start of the concert. We will open the envelope and announce to the audience the popular program choices. Until then,

Lots of Love,

Mark Peskanov

Challenges and Possibilities

May 9th, 2008

I attended the concert last night featuring pianist Fred Hersch and Jim Gailloreto’s Jazz String Quintet and I enjoyed it very much. Tonight the Jazz String Quintet returns at 8 pm as part of Bargemusic’s Here and Now: American Contemporary Music Series. This Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 4 pm violinist Mark Peskanov, cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and cellist Steven Beck perform Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven piano trios.

Dear Music Lovers,

Playing piano trios is a great privilege and fun for me, especially with the likes of Steven Beck and Raman Ramakrishnan, both of whom I met about six years ago and soon after invited to perform at the Barge. Performances always bring new experiences. Experiences bring challenges. Playing great music is such an experience. Every time you rehearse or perform, your perception is constantly being challenged because of endless possibilities and interpretations. But sometimes things can get both challenging and unpredictable outside of playing music … like this weekend.

About six weeks ago I received a phone message from Raman in which he proceeded to tell me about an engagement in Germany that he had gotten with his Daedalus Quartet. They have been playing together for quite some time now. They are a successful emerging quartet and I had a feeling this was a very important engagement for them. Raman mentioned in his message that he would be coming back to the States at noon on the day of the Bargemusic concert. Obviously we would have several rehearsals at the beginning of the week. Sibce he had already accepted the Bargemusic engagement he left it up to me to make a decision. I said yes, because there were many times when I was in his situation and most of the time the decision made by other presenters (probably understandably so) was no.

I believe that by now the Daedalus Quartet has already played their concert and encores. Since Germany is 7 hours ahead of New York time, Raman is probably trying to get as much rest as possible so that he can be ready for his flight from Frankfurt to JFK tomorrow.

We are all hoping for very good weather Saturday and a predictable, unchallenging flight. Let’s leave all the endless challenges, possibilities and interpretations to our rehearsal at 5 pm and the concert at 8 pm. Until then,

Lots of Love,

Mark Peskanov