Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg plays new and ‘older than old’

Mar 13, 2007 at 5:05 pm
Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio headline this weekend’s classical music menu.

With a long, long name and plenty of celebrity, Salerno-Sonnenberg long ago became known to her fans as “Nadja” — and certainly ranks as one of the premier names in classical music today. She performs Friday with the Louisville Orchestra in Whitney Hall.

Salerno-Sonnenberg’s selections include total opposites, not only in style, but time frame — the Violin Concerto No. 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach, written close to 300 years ago, and a concerto by Clarice Assad, penned just last year. Assad is the daughter of a longtime friend of the violinist’s family, Sergio Assad, a Brazilian guitarist and composer, and the concerto was the young Assad’s master’s thesis composition at the University of Michigan.

Salerno-Sonnenberg said she was happy Assad wished to dedicate the concerto to her, but stunned at its quality when the work was finished.

“What happened was this was basically just something I said yes to,” Salerno-Sonnenberg told music writer Alexander Varty. “I said, ‘I’m practically a member of your family, so let me help out with your thesis. If I can, I’ll come there to perform it, and you’ll get your grade and you’ll get your degree, and it’ll be great.’ But I had no idea it would turn out to be the piece it is.”

Good enough that Nadja (I mean Salerno-Sonnenberg) paired it with the classic Bach concerto on her current tour.

“It couples quite nicely,” Salerno-Sonnenberg said. “Apart from introducing this wonderful new work, it’s also very, very wonderful to play a Bach concerto with major orchestras because they never get to play them.”
Placing the works together, she said, “is an example of the foreverness of music. I mean you’re talking about older than old, and a concerto written last year.”

The Louisville Orchestra will be under the baton of visiting conductor Carlos Miguel Prieto, and will also perform a work by Sil Vestra Revuel Tas titled “Homenage a Federico Garcia Lorca,” and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2.

Meanwhile, on Sunday at Comstock Hall on the University of Louisville Campus, the Chamber Music Society presents the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio, which is on tour during its 30th anniversary season.

The group — pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson — was just starting out when it performed at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977, and remains one of the few top chamber music groups to retain all of its original members. Kalichstein is a professor at Julliard, and Laredo and Robinson are faculty members at Indiana University.

The trio’s current tour includes performances at Carnegie Hall and the 92nd St. Y, both in New York, and Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, where the trio is scheduled to present the Brahms and Kirchner trios they will perform here Sunday.

Unlike “Nadja,” the Kalichstein Laredo Robinson Trio has resisted efforts by columnists and headline writers to simplify its name. The group’s publicist specifically asks the trio not be referred to as KLR — and we haven’t yet heard them called the Three Tops or the Kalichstein Family Robinson.

Finally, coming up at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Comstock, pianist Jihye Chang Sung presents a recital of new music, including works by winners of the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award.

Contact the writer at
[email protected]