I chose the title "My New York Years" after much discussion with colleagues, family and friends. Their ideas were insightful, humorous, and touching. We all wanted it to be a personal statement about the music and its meaning. Framing the thought process in that manner, the title became apparent.
Each work recorded on this disc evokes wonderful personal memories, in part because I first performed them in New York City.
My father and I played the Mozart Sonatas at Avery Fisher Hall. Our friends in the audience were surprised how effective it was, given the difference in tessitura between the two instruments and the size of the performance space. Martinů wrote the Madrigals for Joseph and Lillian Fuchs. Lillian was one of my most influential chamber music pedagogues. Decades after their premiere, she taught them to me in her Juilliard studio, lovingly and with total abandon,
Late one night while studying for a Juilliard music history exam I heard the mellifluous voice of WQXR's Nimet Habachi introduce the Heifetz-Primrose-Piatigorsky recording of the Beethoven D major string trio. It robbed me of 40 minutes of study time and rewarded me with a lifelong relationship with this glorious piece. Since then I have performed it many times, including several occasions with the players on this CD.
The Prokofiev Sonata op. 94a is one of the pillars of the violin/piano literature. I fondly remember playing through this work for the legendary Dorothy DeLay, often late into the night on her fifth floor corner studio overlooking the Metropolitan Theater, and having her hear it at my graduate recital.
Thus everything on this disc has the indelible mark of New York City, its flavor, culture and people. The title is both a tribute to the city I came to regard as home in 1984 and a testament to the role it has played in my musical life.
Violinist Gary Levinson has been praised worldwide by critics for his intense musicality and formidable technique. In 2005 and again in 2006 in Italy, he received wide critical acclaim on his solo tours. Italy’s Il Giornale di Brescia stated: “With Paganini’s Caprice No. 24, Mr. Levinson proved himself with extraordinary technique and virtuosity. His performance of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata was a true tour de force, and he concluded the first half of a demanding program with an astonishing execution of Ravel’s Tzigane.”
He has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Christopher O’Riley and Anne-Marie McDermott.
A champion of contemporary music, Mr. Levinson premiered several seminal works dedicated to him by the Iranian composer Behzad Ranjbaran. He recorded on the CALA label with his father, Eugene Levinson, the legendary double bassist and principal chair of the New York Philharmonic, the world-première of Dances of Life by Ranjbaran, written for and dedicated to father and son.
Gary Levinson was the driving force behind the Bernstein Festival at Orchestra Hall in Minnesota where he performed the composer’s Serenade as a soloist. American composer George Tsontakis, having just completed his Second Violin Concerto, asked Mr. Levinson to present the European première as well as to record his complete solo chamber words on the Koch label.
From 1997-2001, he was first violinist of the Elysium String Quartet, who were invited by Lukas Foss to record an all-Bach CD. Mr. Levinson also collaborated with NY Philharmonic principal English hornist, Thomas Stacy, in a CD for CALA’s New York Legends series. For New World Records, he recorded David Del Tredici’s Haddock’s Eyes, conducted by Zubin Mehta. In addition, he recorded the critically acclaimed all-Mozart CD featuring the Elysium String Quartet and three New York Philharmonic principals: Stanley Drucker, clarinet; Joseph Robinson, oboe, and William Kuyper, French horn. On his 2007 CD release, My New York Years, he is joined by New York Philharmonic principals Cynthia Phelps, Carter Brey and Eugene Levinson.
Born into a musical family in St. Petersburg, Russia, Gary Levinson began studying violin at age 5 with Boris Sergeev. After his family immigrated to the United States, he made his U.S. debut at the age of 13 with the Minnesota Orchestra. Having won virtually all of the competitions in the American Midwest, Mr. Levinson went on to capture the top prize at the Romano Romanini International Violin Competition in Italy.
He later completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at The Juilliard School where he was a protégé of Dorothy DeLay and Glenn Dicterow. At the age of 19, Mr. Levinson made his solo debut with the New York Philharmonic. He frequently performs with the Israel Philharmonic at the special request of Zubin Mehta, and returns to the Aspen Music Festival annually.
He will perform throughout Europe in the 2006-07 season. In addition to solo concerts in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, he will tour as a member of Trio Virtuosi with flutist Eugenia Zukerman and pianist Adam Neiman.
Mr. Levinson performs on a 1726 Stradivarius from the Golden Period.
Gary Levinson is represented by Archetto Artists Management. For more details and updates, please visit: www.garylevinson.com.