Oberlin Trio Welcomes Cellist Dmitry Kouzov with Virtual Recital

January 15, 2021

Erich Burnett

David Bowlin, Dmitry Kouzov, and Haewon Song.
Photo credit: photos by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

January 22 performance features works by Haydn, Schumann, and conservatory alum George Walker ’41.

The Oberlin Trio, a conservatory institution founded by three faculty members in 1982, will perform the first virtual performance in its 39-year history: a recital from Warner Concert Hall that will be broadcast live on Oberlin Stage Left at 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 22.

The program, which features trios by Haydn, Schumann, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Oberlin alumnus George Walker, marks the Oberlin Trio debut of cellist Dmitry Kouzov, who joined the conservatory string faculty in fall 2020. He will share the stage with longtime trio members David Bowlin on violin and Haewon Song on piano.

Though new to the trio and to Oberlin, Kouzov has performed with Bowlin for many summers at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in rural Maine, where they both teach. He had his first informal run-through with his new musical partners on campus in October.

“I have always loved playing with David, and it’s been wonderful getting to know Haewon and to work with her too,” says Kouzov, whose gentle speaking voice reveals vestiges of his native Russia. “They are amazing partners, and I look forward to working with them. It’s a pure pleasure and honor for me.”

The trio will perform Walker’s Music for Three for Piano Trio, bookended by a pair of Haydn pieces—Trio in A Major, Hob. XV:35 and Trio in D Major, Hob. XV:16—and by Schumann’s Trio in D Minor, Op. 63. The program will be preceded by a brief introduction featuring all three members of the ensemble.

The Haydn works are a sort of warm-up for an upcoming collaborative project for the trio: a recording of the composer’s complete piano trios—some 43 of them in all—performed by numerous ensembles. The recording is due out on the Naxos label in the near future.

The Walker piece, meanwhile, reminds Kouzov of a past collaboration with the composer himself, through which the cellist presented the recorded premieres of two Walker cello concertos for the Albany Records series George Walker: Great American Orchestral Works.

“It was a great experience,” Kouzov says of his work with Walker, which happened nearly a decade ago. “His music is very interesting to work on, and it demands a lot from its performers, in both emotional and instrumental ways. It’s quite a wonderful journey.”

Kouzov himself has enjoyed something of a wonderful journey. A native of present-day St. Petersburg, he won first prize at the International Beethoven Competition in Czech Republic and was named a Rising Star by the New York Cello Society. Educated in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and at the Juilliard School, he has appeared as soloist with a number of major orchestras, including the St. Petersburg Symphony, and has created numerous recordings.

An avid recitalist in normal times, Kouzov has performed only occasionally since COVID-19 settled in across America: This fall, he appeared as a guest in a performance with Oberlin’s ensemble in residence, the Verona Quartet; he played the Brahms Piano Quartet with three conservatory colleagues; and he performed as the Kouzov Duo with his wife, pianist Yulia Fedoseeva.

Each concert was experienced solely by virtual audiences tethered to their computer screens.

“Surprisingly, it’s not as strange as I thought it would be!” Kouzov says with a chuckle. “Of course, there is some difficulty. It’s much more pleasant to play for a real audience than for a microphone. There is an exchange of energy when performers meet an audience in the hall.

“When we have to play only virtually, it feels more like a one-way road. But I’m very grateful that we have this opportunity. It is so, so much better than nothing!”

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