The Perfect Couple – Peter Greer

I
hope many Pittsburgh Symphony fans had the opportunity to hear last
weekend’s concert featuring our concertmaster, Andres Cárdenes, and Ann
Martindale Williams, principal cello, in the Brahms A minor Concerto
for Violin and Cello under the direction of Pinchas Zukerman.

It
is a hauntingly beautiful piece that does not get performed often
enough. Their performance was exciting because of the contrasting
musical roles each soloist assumed, Anne Williams’ extroverted playing
oozing passionate rebuttal to Andres’s introspective but no less
inspired advances.  On Friday night the audience justifiably showered
the soloists with appreciation at the conclusion of their performance.

At
a reception following the concert hosted by the PSO concertmaster,
Cárdenes declared that Williams was his most favorite playing partner
bar none. Anyone who had the privilege of hearing their performance can understand why he feels this way.

Many
young people attended this reception, most of whom I was to discover,
were students of Andres and other musicians in the orchestra.  I
chatted with one young man who was intensely focused on Cárdenes
welcoming remarks.  It
turns out this very well spoken young Bulgarian, Victor Dulguerov, is a
student of Cárdenes, had recently graduated from CMU with a Masters
Degree in violin, and is continuing there in his post graduate studies.
Victor first heard the PSO while on tour in Florida while attending
college. Then and there he decided that he had to study with “this guy”
(referring to Cárdenes).


Within
the academic community Cárdenes’s reputation as a gifted pedagogue is
as great as his reputation as master violinist.  His students adore him
in the same way that Cárdenes adored his late teacher, the legendary
Josef Gingold. I
can recall Andres, tears welling up, reminiscing about a recent visit
to Gingold’s grave site to pay respects to the great master.   I
can well understand how Andres’s warm and generous spirit combined with
his prodigious talent is the perfect recipe to unleash the potential of
his talented students.

Victor
told me that he aspires to join a major orchestra. Right now he is
gaining valuable experience playing in regional orchestras including
the Westmoreland and Wheeling Symphonies. He was particularly
enthusiastic about the concert he had just played in Wheeling under the
direction of Andre Raphael Smith the week before which featured
Brahms’s Shicksalslied and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I
was in the audience that night and can attest to the fact that we were
treated to excellent performances of two difficult works. (Note that
both of these works Pittsburgh Symphony audiences will be able to hear
next season.)

The
irony today is we have more and better musicians coming out of American
conservatories than ever before, but there are few openings for them in
American orchestras. We owe it to them as well as ourselves to grow our audiences and create a demand for their services.

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Feb 9