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PRODUCED BY THE CRISTOFORI FOUNDATION FOR THE FAUQUIER FAMILY SHELTER
Martin Berkofsky, Piano; The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Pall P. Palsson, Conductor; Rachmaninoff: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G minor
Einar Johannesson, Clarinet; Martin Berkofsky, Piano; Schumann: Fantasiestucke for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 73
The Reykjavik Wind Quintet: Bach, Grieg, Joplin, Kaldalons, Mozart, Palsson, Rimsky-Korsakov, Thorarinsson, Thorsteinsson
This CD, the second benefit compact disc produced by the Cristofori Foundation for the Fauquier Family Shelter, really began seventeen years ago in a hospital bed in Iceland. It was there, while recovering from the motorcycle accident that left his right arm broken in eight places, that pianist Martin Berkofsky listened to Sergei Rachmaninoff's own recording of his fourth piano concerto over and over again. Though Mr. Berkofsky had never played a note of the piece, he "got it in his mind" that he would perform it. As soon as he could get to a telephone, he called the music director of Iceland Radio and announced, "When I get out of here, I want to play Rachmaninoff's Fourth Concerto with you." And indeed, a little more than a year after Mr. Berkofsky left the hospital, he played the piece with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for broadcast on Iceland Radio. This is a recording of that performance.
It was Mr. Berkofsky's first recording after the accident which he thought would mean the end of a career that began when he was eight years old and that included: performances in more than 25 countries; nearly 150 radio and television broadcasts; and recordings with both the London and Berlin Symphonies. As such, it marked the beginning of his second career, one dedicated to producing concerts and recordings to help others.
Helping Mr. Berkofsky bring his Icelandic experience full circle are the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Reykjavik Wind Quintet, both of whom generously allowed use of their recordings; Pall P. Palsson, who both conducted the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and arranged the Icelandic works played by the Reykjavik Wind Quintet; and especially Einar Johannesson. The internationally renowned Icelandic clarinetist is a founding member of the Reykjavik Wind Quintet and has performed and recorded for radio and television broadcasts all across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. In 1979, he won the Sonning Prize for Young Nordic Soloists and twice received the Dagbladid-Visir Cultural prize. Yehudi Menuhin chose him as the first clarinetist to perform on his Live Music Now series. In addition to regular engagements abroad as a chamber musician and solo clarinetist, he is currently principal clarinetist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Johannesson receives particular gratitude because he not only gave permission to use his recordings for this CD, but on learning that Mr. Berkofsky was giving a benefit concert for the Fauquier Family Shelter, as well, he immediately made plans to fly from Iceland for one day to contribute his personal performance to the benefit occasion. This will not be their first benefit concert together; the recording of Robert Schumann's Fantasiestucke was made at the 1987 concert in memory of the former conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Jean-Pierre Jacquillat, to benefit the Icelandic National Concert Hall building fund.
And so this CD celebrates Iceland: its composers and its musicians and their generosity, as well as Iceland's devotion to the arts. Bryndis Schram, the wife of Iceland's Ambassador to the U.S., relates, "We don't have a long tradition of music in Iceland. It was Jewish immigrants from Central Europe before World War II who came and helped establish classical music in Iceland and now Reykjavik is one of the most lively, musical cities in the world. With our mixed Viking and Irish heritage, we are very Bohemian: we like music and dancing and writing. In writing, we do have a long tradition. We like to say that in Iceland every other man is an artist."
Mr. Berkofsky lived in Iceland for five years. "He was a great asset to us," Mrs. Schram says. "He was very active. He performed often at the National Theatre. He was really appreciated in Iceland. You can see how much Einar thinks of him that he will come all this way to play in the concert." (Notes by Sue Allison)
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