When pianist Noël Lee asked me to play with him the European premiere of Elliott Carter’s Duo for Violin and Piano at the Bath festival in 1976, I was thrilled and humbled at the same time. Never had I played such demanding music for violin and piano and it was a great challenge. Fortunately the performance went well and afterwards I asked Elliott if he could write a trio for my trio at that time. He wasn’t very interested, because he thought piano trios always had a balance problem with the cello being drowned out by the left hand of the piano. Consequently I asked if he could write a violin concerto and he agreed! I had to wait fourteen years before the concerto was finished and the premiere with the San Fransisco Symphony and Herbert Blomstedt could take place. Since then I have had the opportunity to perform this concerto around the world almost forty times.
I can easily say that Elliott Carter’s music has made a great impact on me as a musician. Playing his music has given me not only the opportunity to perform some of the greatest music written in our time, but also given me a greater dimension in interpreting music of the past. I feel very honored that he wrote the Violin Concerto and one of the 4 Lauds – Statement – for me, and trusted me with several European first performances of his works.
Elliott and his wife Helen were very generous to me since our first encounter in Bath and they let me use their wonderful apartment in New York for almost twenty summers in a row! I also feel privileged that we became close friends. We could talk about anything. Elliott’s knowledge of not only music made me aware of how little I know myself, but despite being ashamed of my ignorance compared to him, I always felt inspired to work harder to develop as a musician and human being.