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István Várdai
Zoltán Fejérvári

Thursday, November 3, 2016 7:30 PM Weill Recital Hall
Two rising stars perform music that spans the Romantic era to the 20th century. Mendelssohn’s Variations concertantes is a set of eight variations on a genial theme, while Brahms’s Cello Sonata No. 2 has a passionate intensity that burns brightly. There’s also music by 20th-century masters Stravinsky, Kodály, and Ligeti. Cellist István Várdai has been praised by The New York Times for his “fleet-fingered lightness and rich timbre,” while pianist Zoltán Fejérvári has performed chamber music at the Marlboro Music Festival and concertos with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, among others.

Part of Salon Encores.


István Várdai, Cello
Zoltán Fejérvári, Piano


MENDELSSOHN Variations concertantes

STRAVINSKY Suite italienne (arr. Piatigorsky)

KODÁLY Sonatina for Cello and Piano

LIGETI Solo Cello Sonata

BRAHMS Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Major


SCHUMANN Rasch und mit Feuer from Fantasiestücke, Op. 73

SCHUMANN "Abendlied," Op. 85, No.12

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Distinctive Debuts is supported by endowment gifts from The Lizabeth and Frank Newman Charitable Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

At a Glance

FELIX MENDELSSOHN  Variations concertantes, Op. 17

Mendelssohn was just 19, but already a mature and widely acclaimed composer, when he wrote this engaging set of variations on a simple, song-like theme for his cello-playing brother, Paul. The bravura piano part was designed to show off his own virtuosity.

IGOR STRAVINSKY  Suite italienne (arr. Gregor Piatigorsky)

Stravinsky’s neoclassical ballet Pulcinella has long been one of his most popular works. He made no fewer than four concert arrangements, including this effervescent five-movement suite for and in collaboration with Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Stravinsky called Pulcinella “the epiphany through which the whole of my late work became possible.”

ZOLTÁN KODÁLY  Sonatina for Cello and Piano

Kodály’s one-movement Sonatina was originally intended as an addendum to his Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4. The composer, however, decided that the styles of the two early works were incompatible, withdrew the Sonatina, and eventually published it on its own.

GYÖRGY LIGETI  Solo Cello Sonata

An early work, written before Ligeti fled his homeland in 1956 to escape the deadening artistic conformity imposed by Hungary’s Communist regime, the Solo Cello Sonata anticipates the composer’s later interest in atmospheric timbres and complex, multilayered rhythms.

JOHANNES BRAHMS  Cello Sonata No. 2 in F Major, Op. 99

The “autumnal” quality often ascribed to Brahms’s music owes much to his partiality—especially in his later years—for the alto voice and the burnished timbres of the viola and clarinet, yet he was drawn to the distinctive sound of the cello as well. He demonstrated his affinity for the instrument in two sonatas, of which Op. 99 is the more outgoing and exuberant.


István Várdai

István Várdai is a Hungarian cellist who has earned numerous international prizes. He was winner of the 2014 ARD Cello Competition in Munich, recipient of the 2012 Prix ...

István Várdai is a Hungarian cellist who has earned numerous international prizes. He was winner of the 2014 ARD Cello Competition in Munich, recipient of the 2012 Prix Montblanc, winner of the 2008 Geneva International Music Competition, third-prize winner in the 2007 International Tchaikovsky Cello Competition, special-prize recipient at the Kronberg Academy's 2006 Grand Prix Emanuel Feuermann, first-prize winner at the International Brahms Competition in 2006, and three-time winner of the David Popper International Cello Competition (2000, 2003, 2004).

Since his debut concert in 1997 in The Hague, Mr. Várdai has performed throughout Asia, Europe, and North America with great success. In 2010, he made his debut at both Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He has also collaborated with world-renowned musicians and orchestras, including Sir András Schiff, Yuri Bashmet, Zoltán Kocsis, Gidon Kremer, Tabea Zimmermann, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de chambre de Genève, Irish Chamber Orchestra, and American Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Várdai has been invited to numerous festivals, including Santander (Spain), Gergiev (St. Petersburg), Casals (Spain), Radio France, Bellerive (Switzerland), Schleswig-Holstein (Germany), Verbier (Switzerland), West Cork (Ireland), Schwetzingen (Germany), and Budapest Spring.

Mr. Várdai studied at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Between 2010 and 2013, he continued his studies at the Kronberg Academy in Germany, where he joined the faculty in 2013. His first CD was released in 2009 on the Nascor label and featured the Elgar Cello Concerto, along with pieces by Janáček and Prokofiev. His most recent recording, Singing Cello, was released on the Hungaroton label in 2015. Mr. Várdai is artistic director of the Kaposfest International Chamber Music Festival in Hungary along with violinist Kristóf Baráti. He plays a Montagnana cello from 1720.

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Zoltán Fejérvári

Born in Budapest, Zoltán Fejérvári studied at the Liszt Academy of Music with Dénes Várjon, András Kemenes, and Rita Wagner. Further studies took him to the Queen Sofía  ...

Born in Budapest, Zoltán Fejérvári studied at the Liszt Academy of Music with Dénes Várjon, András Kemenes, and Rita Wagner. Further studies took him to the Queen Sofía College of Music in Madrid, where he studied with Dmitri Bashkirov. He has also participated in master classes given by Ferenc Rados, György Kurtág, and Sir András Schiff.

Mr. Fejérvári has performed widely as an orchestral soloist with notable ensembles, including the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Verbier Festival Orchestra, and Concerto
Budapest under conductors such as Iván Fischer, Zoltán Kocsis, and Gábor Takács-Nagy. Mr. Fejérvári is a passionate chamber musician who has collaborated with both the Keller and Kodály quartets, and has worked with Gary Hoffman, Joseph Lin, Christoph Richter, András Keller, Radovan Vlatković, Ivan Monighetti, Frans Helmerson, and Kristóf Baráti. He has also participated in the Kronberg Academy's Chamber Music Connects the
World program, Prussia Cove's Open Chamber Music, and the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mr. Fejérvári was second-prize winner at both the James Mottram and Ricard Viñes international piano competitions. In 2016, he won the highly prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. His recording of Liszt's Malédiction with the Budapest Chamber Symphony was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque in 2013. His CD of four Mozart violin sonatas with violinist Ernő Kállai was released in 2014 by Hungaroton.

Since 2014, Mr. Fejérvári has taught at the Chamber Music Workshop of the Liszt Academy of Music. Highlights of his 2015-2016 season included a duo recital debut at Carnegie Hall with pianist Kuok-Wai Lio; recitals with cellist István Várdai in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and the US; and a tour with Hungary's MAV Symphony Orchestra under Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi.

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