Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Susan Merdinger offered Schumann’s “Carnaval” with a daring, enormously joyous presentation which captured and transfixed the audience. Her fast and at the same time strong technique was unbelievable. Her defiant expression in the Davidsbundler March, which whirled to the conclusion with a breathtaking stringendo, was refreshing. Cries of bravos and enthusiastic applause were the thanks this musician received for her generously endowed gifts.”
“There was plenty of youthful vigour and commitment to be heard in Schumann’s Carnaval, Op. 9 in which Mr. Merdinger showed that she was not afraid to take changes. Once again the solid technical foundation of the pianism stood her in good stead, with some tender and impassioned playing.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse
“The “Carnaval” by Schumann requires quick and spiritual reaction, the highest ability and experience. The pianist succeeded to make light work of these terms in a real sense”
“The highlight of the evening was no doubt Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, Op. 9, a suite in which the characters of a carnival are portrayed. Susan Merdinger demonstrated here her total pianistic expression potentials, which range from steely force in the forte sections, to a glass clear mezzo-forte, to pastel-like soft tones in the piano passages. A long-lasting applause honored the great capabilities of this young artist....”
Carnaval, Op. 9 recorded at WFMT Studio, Chicago, Illinois in April 2011. Mary Mazurek, Recording Engineer; Mark Travis, Editing and Sound Mastering Engineer. Steinway D Piano
Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26, recorded at Nichols Hall, Music Institute of Chicago, Evanston, Illinois, in February 2012. Ed Ingold, Recording, Editing and Sound Mastering Engineer; Steinway D Piano.
CD Graphic Design: Leslie Gould Design.
Photography by Mike Canale and Rocco Marcelli.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Sheridan Music Studio
History of the Carnival:
A Carnival is historically a festive season usually immediately before Lent. The rich food and drink usually abstained from during Lent needed to be disposed of , thus a celebration was held.
Some Carnival traditions are thought to pre-date Christianity- such as the Ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia. Even perhaps the Jewish Festival of Purim, also which has become a festival involving games, dress- up and such is related, and comes at a similar of the year.
Typically a carnival involves a big celebration and parade combining elements of a masquerade, circus, street party.
The most famous of Carnivals originated in medieval Italy- with carnival parades and masquerade balls. Later on, Carnivals spread to the rest of the world- some of the most famous- Mardi Gras in Louisiana, Canival of Rio de Janeiro ( Brazil), to name a few.
Some theorize that the word “Carnaval” is derived from the Italian or Latin- Carne levare- meaning “ to remove meat”, since meat is prohibited during Lent. Folk legend says it comes from Carne Vale- meaning “farewell to meat”- since the Carnival was the last opportunity to eat meat before the fasting of Lent.
In Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, the small vignettes portray some of the Italian Commedia del Arte ( earliest form of Italian improvisational theatre/comedy) characters such as Pierrot, Arlequin, Pantalon and Columbine. Later these same characters spread to England and other parts of the world. Also, the pieces that comprise Carnaval depict some of Schumann’s friends and acquaintances, including his colleague and composer, Chopin,, famous violinist, Paganini, a girlfriend Ernestine von Fricken (Estrella) and his wife, Clara Wieck Schumann ( Chiarina).
SUSAN MERDINGER, Pianist
Performances by internationally-acclaimed Steinway Artist, Susan Merdinger, have been hailed as “Exhilarating” and “Tender and impassioned” by the Glasgow Herald and “Breathtaking” and by the prestigious Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung. Among her many honors, Merdinger is a First Prize Winner of the 2012 Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, and a winner of the 1986 Artists International Young Musicians Competition, the 1990 Artists International Alumni Winners Prize, the 1990 Dewar’s Young Artists Award in Music, the 2011 IBLA Grand Prize Competition “Special Liszt Award”, and the 2009 Masterplayers International Music Competition. She is a laureate of the prestigious Leeds International Piano Competition , Montreal International Concours de Musique, and William Kappell International Piano Competition. Additionally, as the Merdinger-Greene Duo Piano Team with her husband Steven Greene, she won First Prize in the 2013 International Music Competition of France, First Prize in the Westchester Conservatory Chamber Music Competition and was a Semi-Finalist in the Murray Dranoff International Two Piano Competition.
With a vast repertoire spanning three centuries, Merdinger has toured Europe and the USA under the auspices of the International Concert Administration Foundation. She regularly performs as a soloist with orchestras, recitalist, duo pianist, and as a collaborative pianist with distinguished members of the New York Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony, and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and has been repeatedly engaged as a Visiting Artist of the CSO Chamber Music Series with Violinist/Violist Charlie Pikler and the Tononi Ensemble. With a concerto repertoire of over thirty solo and duo piano concerti, she has soloed under many distinguished conductors including Mattia Rondelli, Glenn Cortese, Sandra Dackow, Ari Rudiakov, Ron Arden, Anatol Lysenka, Marvin von Deck, and Barry Hoffman, with numerous orchestras: The Chicago Philharmonic, Rockland Symphony, Yonkers Symphony, Adelphi Chamber Orchestra, Westchester Chamber Orchestra, Ridgewood Symphony, and the North Suburban Symphony. Merdinger has toured as a piano trio with the renowned Elaris Duo- cellist Steven Elisha and violinist Larisa Elisha, and as a duo partner of the violinist, David Yonan and pianist, Irina Feoktistova. A strong advocate of contemporary music and composers, Ms Merdinger has premiered and championed the works of composers Morton Gould, Aaron Jay Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, Elbio Barilari, Ilya Levinson, Armando Susmano, Victor Pichardo, and Megaphonix.
Merdinger’s radio and television appearances in the USA and Europe have included live performances on WQXR’s ‘The Listening Room” with Robert Sherman, Chicago’s WFMT, Connecticut Public Radio, BRT-3-Belgian National Radio, BBC Television in the United Kingdom, and several television programs- including the “Bravura” Television Special on Cable TV, which is available on YouTube along with over 150 videos of her live performances. Ms. Merdinger has performed in major concert halls such as Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Harris Theater of Music and Dance, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Diligentia Hall in the Hague, Henry Wood Concert Hall in Scotland’s National Orchestra Center, Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, the Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center and Fullerton Hall at the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also performed for prominent dignitaries including John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Governors of Connecticut and New York, for many charitable fundraising events. Her summer music festival performances include recitals and concerts at the Chautauqua, Norfolk, Summit and Fontainebleau Music Festivals. Merdinger’s current discography includes five CD’s of solo piano, duo piano and chamber music on the Sheridan Music Studio label - all available on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.
Merdinger received her formal education from Yale University, the Yale School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, the Westchester Conservatory of Music, the Ecole Normale de Musique in Fontainebleau, France, as a recipient of numerous scholarships and awards. Her teachers have included such luminaries as Constance Keene, Claude Frank, Ward Davenny, Seymour Lipkin, Ozan Marsh and Gaby Casadesus for piano, and Otto Werner Mueller and Robert Kapilow for conducting. Merdinger has also had coaching and/or masterclasses with Peter Serkin, Phillipe Entremont, Byron Janis, Walter Hautzig, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and Mary Sauer. Having formerly taught at Yale University and Westchester Day School, Ms. Merdinger is currently on the Piano Faculties of the New Music School of Chicago, Summit Music Festival in New York, Burgos International Music Festival in Spain, and the Fine Arts Music Society Festival in Indiana, and she maintains a private studio in Highland Park, Illinois.