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Kim Kashkashian: Bio

Kim Kashkashian, internationally recognized as a unique voice on the viola, was born of Armenian parents in Michigan. She studied the viola with Karen Tuttle and legendary violist Walter Trampler at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. Since fall 2000 she has taught viola and chamber music at New England Conservatory.

Following Grammy Award nominations for several previous recordings, Kashkashian received a 2012 Grammy Award in the "Best Classical Instrumental Solo" category for Kurtág and Ligeti: Music for Viola, on the ECM Records label. Kashkashian's recording, with Robert Levin, of the Brahms Sonatas won the Edison Prize in 1999. Her June 2000 recording of concertos by Bartók, Eötvös and Kurtág won the 2001 Cannes Classical Award for a premiere recording by soloist with orchestra.

In 2016, Kashkashian was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Kashkashian has worked tirelessly to broaden the range of technique, advocacy, and repertoire for the viola. A staunch proponent of contemporary music, she has developed creative relationships with György Kurtág, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Giya Kancheli, and Arvo Pärt, and commissioned works from Peter Eötvös, Ken Ueno, Thomas Larcher, Lera Auerbach, and Tigran Mansurian.

Marlboro and the Viennese school represented by her mentor, Felix Galimir, were major influences in developing her love of chamber music. Kim Kashkashian is a regular participant at the Verbier, Salzburg, Lockenhaus, Marlboro, and Ravinia festivals.

She has long-standing duo partnerships with pianist Robert Levin and percussionist Robyn Schulkowsky, and played in a unique string quartet with Gidon Kremer, Daniel Phillips, and Yo-Yo Ma.

As a soloist, she has appeared with the great orchestras of Berlin, London, Vienna, Milan, New York, and Cleveland, and in recital at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, Kaufmann Hall, New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, as well as in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Athens, and Tokyo.

Kashkashian's musicianship has been well represented on recordings through her association with the prestigious ECM label in a fruitful collaboration that has been continuous since 1985.

Kim Kashkashian has taught in Bloomington, Indiana, and in Freiburg and Berlin, Germany, and now resides with her daughter in Boston.

Kim is a founding member of Music for Food, an initiative by musicians to fight hunger in their home communities.

B.M., Peabody Conservatory of Music; M.M., New School of Music Philadelphia. Viola with Walter Trampler and Karen Tuttle. Former faculty of University of Indiana and conservatories in Freiburg and Berlin, Germany.

Kim Kashkashian

JS Bach: Six Suites For Viola Solo BWV 1007-1012

ECM

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1 Prelude  
2 Allemande  
3 Courante  
4 Sarabande  
5 Menuet I / II  
6 Gigue  
7 Prelude  
8 Allemande  
9 Courante  
10 Sarabande  
11 Menuet I / II  
12 Gigue  
13 Prelude  
14 Allemande  
15 Courante  
16 Sarabande  
17 Gavotte I / II  
18 Gigue  
19 Prelude  
20 Allemande  
21 Courante  
22 Sarabande  
23 Bourree I / II  
24 Gigue  
25 Prelude  
26 Allemande  
27 Courante  
28 Sarabande  
29 Bourree I / II  
30 Gigue  
31 Prelude  
32 Allemande  
33 Courante  
34 Sarabande  
35 Gavotte I / II  
36 Gigue  

Here are Bach's six cello suites, played on the viola by one of the instrument's greatest exponents, Kim Kashkashian. The suites were once described by Pablo Casals as "the very essence of Bach…a whole radiance of space and poetry pours forth from them."  These qualities are in abundance in the present version, recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York in November and December 2016, and February 2017.

Bach composed the suites around 1720 when he was in the employ of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen.  The autograph manuscript is no longer extant, and the earliest known copies date from 1726 and 1730, the latter made by Anna Magdalena Bach.  Bach himself made a transcription of an arrangement of Suite V for lute, however, which has survived. Differences in articulation between the versions invite a certain expressive liberty. There has also, in recent years, been speculation about the instrument for which Bach wrote the music: was it the violoncello as we know it today, or was it the violoncello da spalla, the small cello played braced against the shoulder'  Were the suites played on the viola in Bach's lifetime Perhaps. Bach's fondness for the viola is documented; he liked to play it in chamber music and also directed cantatas from the viola.