Concert series offers violinist Axel Strauss

Virtuoso: The 1998 winner of one of the most prestigious music competitions will take the stage at Howard Community College on Saturday night.

January 07, 1999|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Columbia's Candlelight Concert Society kicks off 1999 by offering up one of the best of 1998.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, the region's most prestigious concert series will present the 24-year-old German violinist Axel Strauss, winner of last year's Naumburg Foundation Competition, in recital at Howard Community College. Strauss will take the Smith Center stage to perform works by Bach, Beethoven, Schoenberg, Korngold and Wieniawski.

Strauss won his first violin competition at age 8 and made his concert debut in 1988 at the Musikhalle in the city of Hamburg.

He has since won major prizes in numerous competitions across Europe, including the Enescu in Romania, the Wieniawski in Poland and the Stresa in Italy.

Strauss continues to study at New York's Juilliard School, where his mentor is Dorothy Delay, the legendary teacher who has guided the careers of such luminaries as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Cho-Liang Lin, Midori, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Sarah Chang.

Under Delay's guidance, Strauss was named the winner of the prestigious Naumburg Competition last year.

Walter Naumburg was a prosperous New York banker and amateur cellist who was so moved by a poor, young musician's request for patronage that he endowed a foundation that would assist young artists with their careers. Nearly 80 years later, it continues to do just that.

The Naumburg maintains the reputation of being the least glamorous of the major instrumental competitions. Other events may serve up a glitzy atmosphere complete with worldwide news media coverage, star-studded master classes and a festival full of gala concerts. But the Naumburg's sole mission is to enrich America's cultural life by helping the careers of young artists of the highest caliber. Strauss, in short, may have won the most substantive competition of them all.

Saturday's program will include J. S. Bach's mellifluous Sonata No. 3 in E Major and Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata," a grandly symphonic violin sonata. Korngold's delightful "Much Ado About Nothing Suite," Schoenberg's "Phantasy" and Wieniawski's virtuosic Opus 15 Variations will round out the program.

Strauss' piano accompanist for the evening will be Peter Winhardt of Hungary, winner of the Franz Liszt Competition in Paris and the Bela Bartok Competition in his native Budapest. One of the most sought-after chamber pianists in Europe, Winhardt is a professor of chamber music at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany.

Tickets are $24 for general admission; $18 for seniors; and $9 for full-time students to age 24. Information: 410-715-0034 or 301-596-6203.

Pub Date: 1/07/99

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