Performance Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 7:30 PM

Jonathan Biss
Elias String Quartet

Zankel Hall
Shortly after moving to Vienna in 1783, Mozart wrote a set of three concertos to show off his compositional skills and his prowess as a pianist, also producing orchestral and string-quartet arrangements of the works. On this program, Jonathan Biss and the Elias String Quartet perform the chamber version of the last of these three concertos, along with the Piano Quintet that helped solidify Schumann’s reputation as a composer. Starting off the concert is Janáček’s idiosyncratic Concertino.


  • Jonathan Biss, Piano
  • Elias String Quartet
    ·· Sara Bitlloch, Violin
    ·· Donald Grant, Violin
    ·· Martin Saving, Viola
    ·· Marie Bitlloch, Cello
  • Carol McGonnell, Clarinet
  • Eric Reed, Horn
  • Brad Balliett, Bassoon


  • MOZART Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major, K. 415
  • JANÁCEK Concertino for Piano and Chamber Ensemble
  • SCHUMANN Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44


  • Jonathan Biss

    Jonathan Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Widely regarded not only for his artistry and poetic interpretations, but also for his deep musical curiosity, Mr. Biss performs a diverse repertoire that ranges from Mozart and Beethoven through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg, as well as works by contemporary composers such as György Kurtág and commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratlan, and Bernard Rands. Mr. Biss has recently embarked on a new project in which he explores Robert Schumann's role in musical history, entitled Schumann: Under the Influence.  The initiative features Mr. Biss and several collaborators around the world performing Schumann's works; music by his notable influences, such as Beethoven, Schubert, and Purcell; and selections from his long list of successors, ranging from Berg and Janáček to Timothy Andres.

    Mr. Biss also has a busy recording career. His releases include an album of Schubert sonatas and two short Kurtág pieces, named by  NPR  as one of the best albums of 2009. His recent albums for EMI won a Diapason d'Or award and an Edison Award. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. His recent CD of Schumann and Dvořák piano quintets was made with the Elias String Quartet.

    Mr. Biss studied at Indiana University and at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed to the piano faculty in 2010. His bestselling e-book, Beethoven's Shadow (published by Rosetta Books in 2011) was the first Kindle Single to be written by a classical musician. He followed it with the e-book A Pianist Under the Influence, a personal introduction to the music of Schumann. His blog-featuring ruminations on music, reflections on his life as a musician, and interviews-can be found at

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  • Elias String Quartet

    The Elias String Quartet has quickly established itself as one of the most intense and vibrant quartets of its generation. The quartet made its North American debut in March 2012 to great critical acclaim. In addition to a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, the ensemble was praised in The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer for concerts with pianist Jonathan Biss. The quartet returns to North America for concerts both with and without   Mr. Biss in March 2013.

    The ensemble has been chosen to participate in BBC Radio 3's prestigious New Generation Artists scheme, in addition to receiving a 2010 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. With the support of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, the Elias Quartet is embarking on its Beethoven project, learning and performing the complete Beethoven string quartets starting in 2012-2013. The quartet is documenting its journey, learnings, and findings at

    In addition to Mr. Biss, the quartet has performed alongside artists such as Michael Collins, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Ralph Kirshbaum, Alice Neary, Ann Murray, Joan Rogers, Mark Padmore, Roger Vignoles, Michel Dalberto, Peter Cropper, Bernard Gregor-Smith, Ettore Causa, Timothy Boulton, Robin Ireland, Adrian Brendel, and Anthony Marwood, as well as with the Endellion, Jerusalem, and Vertavo quartets.

    In 2012, the ensemble recorded the piano quintets of Schumann and Dvořák with Mr. Biss for the Onyx label, and the quartet's recording of Haydn and Schumann quartets was released in the spring of 2012 on the Wigmore Live label. The group's previous effort on that label-a disc of Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Schubert-was given the BBC Music Magazine Newcomer Award in April 2010. The ensemble's debut recording of Mendelssohn quartets for Sanctuary Classics also received wide acclaim, and its performance of the Op. 80 Quartet was chosen as best recording on BBC Radio 3's Building a Library in September 2009. The quartet has also released a disc of French harp music with harpist Sandrine Chatron for the label Ambroisie, Goehr's Piano Quintet with Daniel Becker for Meridian Records, and a recording of Britten quartets released by Sonimage.

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  • Carol McGonnell

    Clarinetist Carol McGonnell has performed in Zankel Hall's inaugural concert, appeared in Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, and performed as soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles around the world, including Ensemble Modern, Camerata Pacifica, Ulster Orchestra, The Knights, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, and Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert. She has been broadcast on RTÉ, Lyric FM, BBC, WQXR, and NPR, and performed at the Marlboro and Mecklenburg festivals, among others. Ms. McGonnell is a founding member of the Argento Chamber Ensemble. She has been involved in the commissioning of more than 100 new works that from solo pieces to clarinet concertos, including works for her by composers such as Philippe Hurel, Bernhard Lang, Kevin Volans, and Ian Wilson. She is artistic director of Music for Museums, in association with the National Gallery of Ireland and involving museums such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston, J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Ms. McGonnell has been on faculty at the French American Academy at Fontainebleau and the Music Advancement Program at The Juilliard School, as well as on the jury of the 2012 Eurovision Young Musicians competition. 

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  • Eric Reed

    Eric Reed has established himself as a versatile performer, having appeared as a soloist, chamber artist, and orchestral musician throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. A graduate of Rice University and The Juilliard School, Mr. Reed is the horn player of the widely celebrated Canadian Brass. He has been a member of the Oregon Symphony, New World Symphony, Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble ACJW, and Burning River Brass, as well as being a founding member of the Spectrum Brass Quintet. As an active freelance musician in New York, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, New York City Opera, and International Contemporary Ensemble. Also active in commercial and contemporary genres, Mr. Reed has performed as a member of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and has regularly appeared with Gary Morgan's Latin big band, PanAmericana!. He has been a regular substitute in the pit orchestras of numerous Broadway shows and has played in back-up groups for Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, and Boyz II Men. Mr. Reed studied with William VerMeulen and Roger Kaza at Rice University and with Julie Landsman at The Juilliard School. As part of an exclusive agreement between Conn-Selmer and Canadian Brass, Mr. Reed performs on a 24-karat gold-plated "Vintage Model" Conn 8D.

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  • Brad Balliett

    New York City-based bassoonist and composer Brad Balliett is gaining a reputation for unusual and thought-provoking programming, performance, and composition. As a bassoonist, he performs regularly with Metropolis Ensemble, Signal, The Declassified, and Ensemble ACJW. Formerly acting principal of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Balliett has also appeared as principal bassoonist with the Houston Symphony and American Ballet Theatre, and has performed with International Contemporary Ensemble, Anthony Braxton, Zakir Hussain, and Miguel Zenón. He is an alumnus of The Academy and is a founding member of The Declassified, the Deviant Septet, and DZ4. Mr. Balliett graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 2005 and holds a master's degree from Rice University. He is also active as a composer and makes hip-hop albums with his band The Oracle Hysterical.

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Schumann's Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44 (Allegro brillante)
Elias String Quartet | Jonathan Biss, Piano

At a Glance

Tonight's concert explores the many ways that a piano can play the role of soloist in the context of chamber music. In Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 13, the piano is featured as a traditional concerto soloist: The ensemble introduces the material, the piano chimes in, and the interplay between the two forms the basis of the work. In Schumann's Op. 44 Piano Quintet, the piano and ensemble join forces: The resonant and percussive quality of the piano provides a harmonic bedrock that grounds the strings throughout the piece. And in Janáček's Concertino for Piano and Chamber Ensemble (perhaps the quirkiest work on the program), the pianist balances both roles—it is a chamber music partner in the first two movements, but acts as a proper soloist against the backdrop of the ensemble in the last two.
Program Notes
This performance is part of Chamber Sessions II.