Mark Kaplan, violin
Kaplan's newly released 2-CD set of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin has just been released to strong praise for his "extraordinary lyricism" (ArtMusicLounge).
Kaplan has performed with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington DC, and the symphony orchestras of St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Dallas and Houston, among others. Currently a professor of Violin at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, his flourishing career in Europe began in 1975 when he was asked to replace Pinchas Zukerman in a concert conducted by Lawrence Foster in Cologne. On that occasion the critic of the Koelnische Rundschau wrote: "One needs no gift of prophecy to foresee that Mark Kaplan will soon conquer the great musical centres of Europe." This led to engagements with the Berlin Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic with Klaus Tennstedt -- launching his international career.
He has subsequently performed in all the principal European cities including London, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Zurich, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Milan as well as the Far East and Australia, and has collaborated with many of the world's foremost conductors, among them Ormandy, Tennstedt, Maazel, Masur, Dutoit, Bychkov, Comissiona, Conlon, Fischer, Foster, Rattle, Salonen, Schwarz, Skrowaczewski, Slatkin, Gatti and Zinman. He has appeared regularly at the major summer festivals such as Aspen, Blossom, Chautauqua, Grant Park, Ravinia, Saratoga, Wolf Trap and Santa Fe.
Mark Kaplan's repertoire stretches from the baroque to the present day. Strongly committed to contemporary music, he gave the European premiere of Marc Neikrug's Violin Concerto in 1985 with the Hallé Orchestra and in 1995 he played the Elliott Carter Violin Concerto in Paris with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, conducted by David Robertson. He has recently performed the John Adams Violin Concerto with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, the Ligeti Violin Concerto with the RAI Orchestra in Turin and recorded Nono Varianti for Violin and Orchestra. At the other end of the scale, his recitals regularly include works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert.
Mark Kaplan's extensive discography includes the 2016 release of Bach's Complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin on the Bridge label. His first concerto recording of Paganini and Wieniawski violin concertos with the London Symphony Orchestra received impressive reviews both in the UK and abroad. He has also recorded Schubert works with David Golub, the solo works of Sarasate, and Bartok with Bruno Canino to much acclaim and a CD of Schumann sonatas with Anton Kuerti. His most recent recordings include Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2 and Dohnanyi Violin Concerto No. 2, recorded with Lawrence Foster and the Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona for Koch International Classics and Nono Varianti with the Sinfonieorchester Basel under the baton of Mario Venzago. Two new CDs for Koch International: Lalo Symphonie Espagnole and Juan Manen Concerto Espagnole and Berg and Stravinsky Violin Concertos were recorded with the Budapest Festival Orchestra.
A dedicated chamber musician, he formed the Weiss-Kaplan-Stumpf Trio with pianist Yael Weiss and cellist Peter Stumpf (formerly with cellist Clancy Newman). With a trio discography that already includes works of Brahms, Smetana, Auerbach, Chen Yi, Newman and Schoenfelt, the latest CD will feature a new trio of composer Fred Lerdahl. The ensemble follows the legacy of the former Golub Kaplan Carr trio whose success throughout North America and Europe was echoed in the outstanding reviews from both performances and recordings.
Recent engagements include performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gatti (Berg), Helsinki Philharmonic conducted by Foster (Bartók), Netherlands Radio Philharmonic (Korngold), Aspen Festival Orchestra conducted by Zinman (Bartók), Hallé (Sibelius), Orchestre National de Bordeaux with Gunther Herbig (Stravinsky), Orchestre National de Lyon with Cambreling, Bartók with the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Sibelius with both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (Schwarz) and Florida Philharmonic Orchestra (Silverstein). Additionally, he recently performed the Ligeti Concerto with RAI Torino, Walton with the Orquesta Sinfonica de RTVE in Madrid, Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona (Lalo) and recorded the Berg and Stravinsky Violin Concertos with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Beyond this, his schedule included appearances with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (Carlo Rizzi), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (Emmanuel Plasson) and several visits to Spain.
Mark Kaplan plays a violin made by Antonio Stradivari in 1685. It is named The Marquis after the Marchese Spinola, whose family owned the violin for several generations.
"Thanks to the exemplary musicianship of Mark Kaplan... a romantic concerto that often winds up as little more than a loud, fast vehicle for solo violinists to show off their flashy technique revealed itself as a sustained exploration of human and harmonic relationships." [Tchaikovsky Concerto]
"The musicians I admire most tend to be selfless types for whom razzle-dazzle is clearly anathema; for them, the composer always comes first. Mark Kaplan is exactly that kind of violinist...a gripping performance of ever-increasing lyrical intensity."
"An impressive performer. He brought forth sounds of great purity from his instrument and left no doubt about his virtuosity."
New York Times
"...there is something especially engrossing in this performance. As if conjuring a whole atmosphere of Bach, the sound is full and sumptuous with a balanced ambience throughout Kaplanís superb interpretation." [full review]
"In an overly packed Ford-Crawford Hall, he performed part two of Bach's daunting Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin. He was, to put it succinctly, magnificent"
"Kaplan is at the top of his form ... sophisticated insights and subtle mastery"
"It is as if every note, every phrase of these monumental works has something to say to Kaplan and, in turn, he has something to say to you about them." [Bach: Solo Sonatas and Partitas] [full review]
"Kaplan has a clear vision of the structure of each movement, and he seems to understand the role of every note within that structure. The music sounds cohesive and expressive." [full review]
The Unmutual Blog
"These are sage performances... he even wrote the booklet notes, and they reveal his deep understanding of the music." [Bach: Solo Sonatas & Partitas; Bridge 9460, 2 CD set]
American Record Guide
"Kaplan defines the structures of all three fugues with skilful voicing and shaping of the line. He performs the aria-like Andante of Sonata no. 2 with immaculate repose and characterises most of the partitasí dances with buoyant rhythms and crisp articulations. He lingers at unexpected moments in the Adagio of Sonata no. 3 and the deeply felt Sarabanda of Partita no. 2 ... a striking cumulative effect."
"Kaplan and Newman matched each other perfectly in the execution of Brahms' by turns argumentative and intimate duet writing. Each musician had mastered the individual challenges of the piece (including some fiendishly difficult double-stops in both parts) and turned their attention to the intricate dialog that makes the concerto unique in the genre. The finale... displayed the soloists at the peak of their powers, and brought the audience to its feet" [Brahms Double Concerto, Springfield Symphony]
"The rhythm and colors brought out by the conductor were equaled only by the surpassing musicality and the beautiful technique of soloist Mark Kaplan." [Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Orchestre National de Lyon]
Bach BWV 1003 (excerpt)
Bach Partita #2 - (live excerpt)
Schumann Sonata op. 105
Mendelssohn Double Concerto - (excerpt)
Mendelssohn Double Concerto - (finale)