BRAHMS: VIOLIN SONATAS NOS.1-3
ZINA SCHIFF, violin
CAMERON GRANT, piano
"Zina Schiff has the emotional equipment to convey her reading of these works. I’ve taken real pleasure in her bold, Romantic approach to the violin music of Ernest Bloch (Naxos 8557757), and here we have the same ripe, emotionally charged music-making... Schiff’s big throaty violin tone is wielded in the service of big emotions... I’m glad to have been able to hear more of Zina Schiff, and I warmly recommend this latest effort."
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [September 2011]
"...emotionally gripping and sonically lustrous...revelatory"
CD Hot List 
"It's a stunning beauty"
Audio Society of Atlanta [April 2011]
"A glorious performance"
PROGRAM NOTESJohannes Brahms was born in the port city of Hamburg on May 7, 1833, into a poor but musical family. The blond, blue-eyed baby developed into a quiet, sensitive child, spending endless hours rearranging his toy lead soldiers, intrigued by the variations of the patterns he created. By his tenth year, in addition to formal education, Brahms studied music four times a week with Eduard Marxsen, a highly respected composer, who was convinced of the boy’s genius and encouraged his efforts in composition and piano. When the political upheaval of 1848 caused a stream of Hungarians to flee for safety to Hamburg, Brahms first encountered the gypsy melodies he grew to adore, especially through a young refugee violinist, Eduard Remenyi. The two musicians soon formed a duo, and while on tour in Hanover, Remenyi introduced Brahms to his violinist friend, Joseph Joachim. Enchanted by Brahms’ artistry, Joachim immediately dashed off a letter of introduction to Franz Liszt in Weimar. Partly in jest, Joachim quietly extended an invitation to Brahms to become his pianist if things did not work out well with Remenyi. Indeed, the meeting between Brahms and Liszt was an artistic disaster. Remenyi, who idolized Liszt, was so embarrassed that he would have nothing further to do with Brahms, who then turned to Joachim for help. Joachim promptly welcomed Brahms back. After hiking with Brahms along the Rhine to speed his nature-loving friend’s recuperation from the fiasco, Joachim insisted that Brahms visit Dusseldorf to meet Clara and Robert Schumann. Joachim felt confident that his illustrious friends, Clara, one of the foremost concert pianists of her time, and Robert, the distinguished composer, would surely appreciate and promote Brahms. On September 30, 1853, Brahms entered the home and hearts of the Schumann family. He turned somersaults with the children and cheerfully babysat them. He shared in the intense musical atmosphere of the household and received the confirmation he craved of his musical worth. Most importantly, he experienced true friendship and enduring, unconditional love as he supported Clara, amidst his awakening passion for her, through the tragic time of her husband’s illness and death. Although Brahms ultimately chose a life alone, he and Clara were never spiritually apart. Clara wrote, “I have never loved a friend as I loved him; it is the most beautiful mutual understanding of two souls.” And Brahms said that Clara was “…the most beautiful experience of my life, its greatest wealth and its noblest content.” The unique relationship of Clara and Johannes is the quintessentially enigmatic story—only Brahms’ music holds the hidden details. As Jan Swafford wrote in his 1997 biography of Brahms,“…some of the warmest and most haunting moments… seem to voice a lyrical, romantic evocation of what was or could have been: the lost idyll, the unattainable lightness of life.” In the Three Violin Sonatas, the listener is privileged to enter a private world of meaning—of whispers and dreams, of two voices blended in tenderness and trust.
Zina Schiff, a Heifetz protégée, has been described by The New York Times as an instrumentalist of “Luscious high voltage...vintage Heifetz.” With her special blend of passion, poetry and communicative power, she has dazzled audiences throughout North America, Eastern and Western Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Her many awards include the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Award, the San Francisco Symphony Foundation Award, and a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music. A student of Ivan Galamian at The Curtis Institute, she is the only violinist to have won both the Junior and Senior Auditions of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Named one of the “Top Ten College Winners” by Glamour Magazine, Zina was selected as an “Outstanding Young Artist” by Musical America and honored as a “Distinguished Alumna” by Louisiana State University.
Zina has performed at such summer festivals as Aspen, Music from Bear Valley, Mendocino, Sewanee and Newport where her artistry was described as “pure perfume”. She has been heard on NPR’s “Performance Today,” WGBH’s “ Live from Fraser,” New York’s WQXR, and “Art of the States.” Worldwide appearances on television include the PBS Nova program “What is Music?” where she performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto on an experimental violin by Texas A & M professor Joseph Nagyvary. She gave the New York premiere of Richard Nanes’ “Rhapsodie” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and has subsequently performed it internationally, including at the Budapest Spring Festival.
Zina’s first recording was the score for the MGM movie, “The Fixer,” composed for solo violin by Maurice Jarre. Her debut CDs with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra were Bach/Vivaldi and The Lark Ascending. Solo discs with Cameron Grant on the 4-Tay label include Here’s One and King David’s Lyre (both of which were American Record Guide Critics’ Choices for 1997), The Golden Dove, and Elijah’s Violin. Of her two Naxos recordings, Cecil Burleigh: Music for Violin and Piano was an American Record Guide Critics‘ Choice in 2002 and Bloch’s Violin Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was Recording of the Month in 2007 for MusicWeb International and was awarded a 10/10 rating by ClassicsToday.com.
Cameron Grant joined the New York City Ballet in 1984, became a Solo Pianist there two years later, and was appointed pianist of the NYCB Orchestra in 1998. He has performed all the major “piano ballets” of the company such as the Goldberg Variations and Dances at a Gathering of Jerome Robbins, Davidsbundlertanze of George Balanchine, and Waltz Project of Peter Martins as well as virtually all the piano concerti of the repertory including those of Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Hindemith, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich.
Cameron has been the soloist in premieres of ballets by Richard Tanner, Robert La Fosse and Christopher Wheeldon, and toured as a featured performer with the company on trips to Paris, Edinburgh, Athens, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Italy, Russia and Denmark. In 2004, he appeared in the Emmy Award-winning “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of New York City Ballet, as well as being invited (along with three other members of NYCB), to perform at the Kennedy Center Honors before the President. The Washington Post described “It’s as if the music...a test of endurance that pianist Cameron Grant sailed through...is playing with him.”
Cameron has performed extensively outside the ballet as well. He was pianist of the Leonardo Trio for 15 years, recording a CD and appearing across the United States and in Europe. As a member of the Grant-Winn duo-piano team, he was a prize winner at the Munich Competition and performed 200 concerts in the US, Canada, and Germany. As a soloist, he toured Japan and the Middle East, and made his New York debut at Town Hall. He has recorded for Orion (with Joel Krosnick), CRI, CBS, XLNT, Koch International and 4-Tay. His partnering on discs with Zina Schiff has garnered international praise for his “excellence” and “sympathetic and subtle” collaborations. The American Record Guide exclaimed, “Zina Schiff and Cameron Grant play wonderfully together!” This is Cameron’ s fifth CD with Zina.
VIOLIN SONATA NO.1 IN G MAJOR, OP. 78
VIOLIN SONATA NO.2 IN A MAJOR, OP. 100
VIOLIN SONATA NO.3 IN D MINOR, OP. 108