Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev makes her debut on AVIE Records with Finnish pianist Juho Pohjonen in a recording of the music of three leading Romantic composers – Chopin, Schumann, and Grieg.
For their first album together, Segev and Pohjonen have chosen the expressive and sometimes nostalgic Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 65 by Frédéric Chopin, Edvard Grieg’s Scandinavian folk-imbued Cello Sonata in A minor, Op. 36, and Robert Schumann’s moody and romantic Fantasiestücke, Op. 73.
“These three works explore Romanticism, seen through different lenses – Polish-French, Norwegian, and German,” Segev says. “Although Chopin wrote very little for anything but the piano, we know that he adored going to the opera and that he admired the bel canto style of singing. So perhaps here in this sonata, the cello becomes an extension of the human voice. The Grieg sonata is very much like his piano concerto, with a massive, virtuosic, yet beautifully written piano part. His rich melodies lend themselves so beautifully to the cello, and he brings out those qualities for which the cello is most renowned – warmth and humanity. In the case of the Schumann Fantasiestücke or Fantasy Pieces, they were composed originally for clarinet, and are characterized by elusively abrupt changes of mood – one could play these pieces on virtually any instrument and their creative genius would still shine through.”
Segev began playing the cello in Israel at age five and at 16 was invited by Isaac Stern to come to the United States to continue her studies. From there she has thrived and gone on to gain degrees from Yale University and The Julliard School.
She made debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic, led by Zubin Mehta, at age 17. Segev has performed as soloist with orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Castleton Festival Orchestra with Lorin Maazel, Bogotá Philharmonic, Helsinki Philharmonic, Dortmund Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Polish National Radio Symphony, and the Bangkok Symphony. In 2018, she was the first cellist to perform Christopher Rouse’s Violoncello Concerto since Yo-Yo Ma premiered it in the 1990s.
She is also a founding member of the Amerigo Trio with former New York Philharmonic concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and violist Karen Dreyfus. Since 2017, she is co-curator of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Festival, with conductor Marin Alsop.
This new album was recorded in October 2017 at the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and was produced, engineered and mastered by Da-Hong Seetoo.
Of working with Pohjonen, Segev adds, “I first heard Juho in New York a couple of years ago and was then introduced to him by my long-time producer, Da-Hong Seetoo. I was looking for an equal partner rather than an accompanist, and Juho is not only a wonderful chamber musician but also a formidable soloist. I lean toward the instinctive whereas Juho is more analytical, so his playing complements mine and is also a constant source of inspiration. Of course, given Juho’s Finnish background, playing the Norwegian Grieg’s music is almost like playing his national anthem – it is part of his musical DNA.”
Celebrated as one of Finland's most outstanding pianists, Pohjonen has received widespread acclaim for his profound musicianship and distinctive interpretations of a broad range of repertoire from Bach to Salonen. His interpretations are known for their intensity, thoughtfulness, and fearless musical conviction.
In summer 2018, Pohjonen debuts with the Pittsburgh Symphony and appears at the prestigious Marlboro Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society and Tannery Pond Concerts for a series of recitals and chamber music concerts. Highlights of his 2018-2019 season include concerto appearances with the Nashville, Bay Atlantic and Pacific Symphonies, performing Mozart’s Concerto No. 23, K 488, and with Duluth-Superior Symphony orchestra in Brahms’s Concerto No. 2, Op. 83. In recital, he makes his 92nd Street Y debut in New York and appears at the Lane Series of the University of Vermont and Music Toronto.
Recently, Pohjonen formed the Sibelius Piano Trio with Petteri Iivonen and Samuli Peltonen, and released a recording on Yarlung Records in honor of Finland’s centennial.
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