|DuoLeonore, Switzerland/Sweden, 2016|
Tour Dates: 13th October - 24th October, 2016
“An unexpected treasure...Their playing is tonally beautiful and spot-on technically.”
14 October, 2016, 19:45, Shanghai Oriental Art Center
Maja Weber, cello
We, Maja Weber, cello, and Per Lundberg, piano, have been playing chamber music together for more than twenty years, mostly in piano quartets and quintets. The idea of forming a duo was a natural consequence of our work together, and it was together that we chose the name “Duo Leonore”. We have always shared a strong need for artistic expression – and that, like many other things in our society, is something that has hardly changed since Beethoven’s time. We find our mutual musical passion reflected most especially in his music. That is perhaps because of Beethoven’s uncompromising belief in the power of music. Leonore, the heroine of his opera Fidelio, symbolizes Beethoven’s aesthetics for us: her humanism, personal readiness to make sacrifices and courage ultimately lead to triumph.
Maja Weber, cello
I am Maja Weber and was born into a family of musicians in 1974. My father is a violist and my mother and my elder sister are both violinists. Music was thus no new discovery for me. I was presented with a small cello when I was three-and-a-half, and I have always been very happy with the choice others made for me then. I never questioned the automatic assumption that I wanted to be a cellist. My parents recollect that every time we saw a church when I was four, I used to say I would later give a concert there. Chamber music was our great passion at home, and very soon we were drawing positive attention as a family quartet.
I first studied with Markus Stocker and Cäcilia Chmel at the Winterthur College of Music, continuing in Cologne with Frans Helmerson (cello) and the Alban Berg Quartet (chamber music). In 1987, whilst still at school, my sister and I formed a string quartet which has borne the name Amar Quartet since 1995. I have been particularly influenced by personalities like Isaac Stern, Walter Levin, Paul Katz and Valentin Berlinsky. My passion was one hundred per cent for chamber music, and independence was important to me right from the start. For me, the many years of participating in string quartet competitions were a decisive opportunity to develop and feel my way around. My most important successes were the second prizes in Geneva and Graz, the Millennium Award in London and first prizes in Cremona and Bubenreuth. I received considerable support from the Swiss Chamber Music Competition of Migros Kulturprozent.
The communication chamber music demands have always particularly fascinated me, and it is also what drives me to communicate with audiences and other partners. Together with the Amar Quartet, prior to 2006 I initiated, organized and with a great deal of passion realized several music festivals and crossover projects. As a young quartet, we had the good fortune to be able to perform regularly at all the major concert seasons in Switzerland, as well as at some in Germany and Austria.
I saw it as a logical development to form a new string quartet, the Stradivari Quartet, in 2007. After our brilliant tour debut through a number of European cities including Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest and Prague, I have continued to seek further concert engagements all over the world. I find it fantastic that musical language is understood worldwide and that there are no cultural barriers against it. I never fail to be astounded at the number of diverse and exciting people we meet in our work. The Stradivari Quartet now undertakes annual tours of China, Japan and the USA.
Like Per Lundberg, I have played in Ars Amata Zurich for more than twenty years. When I was a child, my parents always allowed me to learn by being around them. Later, as a teenager, I had the opportunity to discover and perform the most beautiful chamber works with experienced musicians.
I have made recordings since the start of my career. Apart from various concert and radio recordings, I have recorded more than 20 CDs on various labels with the Stradivari Quartet, the Amar Quartet, Ars Amata Zurich, the family quartet, and other friends of mine.
I live with my businessman husband and our three sons on beautiful Lake Zurich. Communication also plays the leading role in my personal life. I most especially enjoy organizing and taking the initiative in my relations with my family and friends.
I will never forget how extraordinarily delighted I was in June 1999, when I received an inquiry asking whether I and my sister would like our Amar Quartet to play on four Stradivari instruments. Since then I have enjoyed the unique privilege of playing the Stradivari “Suggia” cello of 1717. We have experienced a lot together in this time and I am deeply grateful to the Habisreutinger Stradivari Foundation in Gersau for the loan.
Bonamy Dobree – Suggia 1717
The English cellist Hancock played it, the English scholar Bonamy Dobree (who gave the instrument its name) owned it – this Stradivari cello was made in 1717.The moving story of this valuable cello actually begins with the mysterious, diva-like Portugese cellist Guilhermina Suggia (1885-1950), who when playing her favourite cello combined technical perfection and interpretative feeling into one, enchanting her public with both aspects of her playing and her warmth and depth of tone. Outwardly extravagant and lively, inwardly intelligent and warm-hearted, Suggia lived many lives: in Paris as the pupil and lover of Pablo Casals, in London as a “Grande Dame” and cosmopolitan figure, in Portugal as the yearning woman seeking her homeland. We are fascinated by such inexplicable beauty, the kind of beauty that Guilhermina Suggia and her cello represent.In the London Tate Gallery hangs the famous portrait by Sir Augustus John, in which he shows Suggia and her cello in harmonious unity.After Suggia’s death the cello was sold and the proceeds used to provide grants for students at the Royal Academy of Music.The Stradivari Cello Bonamy Dobree – Suggia belongs to the swiss Habisreutinger Stradivari Foundation in Gersau.
Per Lundberg, piano
My name is Per Lundberg and I was born in Stockholm in 1962. When I was about four, my family moved from Stockholm to Norrköping, a city 160 km to the south, and that is my real home town. My parents are not musicians, but my father listened to a lot of jazz and my mother bought a piano for me, and I began to play it when I was about seven.
My parents saw to it that I started off with a sound musical education and a lot of choral singing. My true interest in music was engendered when I was ten, when I found an old LP my mother had inherited from her brother – Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto in B flat minor with the pianist Van Cliburn in a live recording made at the famous Moscow competition in the fifties. I was completely enthralled by the music and decided there and then to become a pianist.
It was probably more by luck than judgement that I met the pianist Marianne Jacobs, who became my first important teacher. She introduced me seriously to the world of music, which finally helped me to gain a place at Edsberg Manor in Sollentuna, then run by Swedish Radio and since 1999 by the Swedish Royal College of Music. Edsberg is a small exclusive college with only 25 students – string players and pianists. The central focus was chamber music, which exerted great influence on my musical career via the professors, José Ribera (piano), Endre Wolf (violin) and Frans Helmerson (cello). I graduated after another three years of study with Professor Heinz Medjimorec at the Vienna College of Music and Performing Arts. I then returned to Sockholm, where for almost twenty-five years I worked as accompanist and finally as professor of chamber music at Edsberg Manor.
The time I spent in Vienna was extremely important to me, and foremost among all the unforgettable memories are the concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein.
As a pianist, I have performed in chamber groupings in most European countries and above all in Scandinavia. Together with Sara Hesselink, leader, and Claes Gunnarsson, solo cellist of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, I perform in the Trio Poseidon, which records for Chandos and other labels.
Like Maja Weber, I have for twenty years been a member of Ars Amata Zurich, which performs in various groupings, but focuses mainly on piano quartets and quintets.
I also regularly appear as a soloist, and in 1997 gave the Swedish first performance of Lutoslawski’s Piano Concerto of 1989 with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
I have been one of the driving forces behind the very successful international Lyckå Chamber Music Festival in Karlskrona for thirty years now. I was given a professorship in accompaniment and chamber music at the Norwegian College of Music in Oslo in 2013, and that has compelled me to withdraw from of some my activities at Edsberg Manor.
I live in Enskede in the south of Stockholm with my wife, who is also a pianist, my daughter, who is twenty-one and is studying the violin at the College of Music, and my son, who is nineteen and wants to become a cellist. I have many interests. Among others, I took up gliding twenty years ago and have renovated my 1920s villa from top to bottom myself. I am hopelessly in love with the dreamlike Stockholm skerries. One of my big dreams came true a few years ago, when I bought my boat, an Oxelö 27 called Victoria. With her I enjoy that wonderful countryside between small islands and skerries every summer.
"Listening to the interpretation makes you very enthusiastic, […] also from the sensitive and intelligent dialog of the two partners."
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"An unexpected treasure...Their playing is tonally beautiful and spot-on technically."
- Fanfare Magazine