Indisputably the world's greatest living violist, Yuri Bashmet has one simple ambition, to continue producing world class performances on the concert platform and on record.
His commitment to music and musicians is phenomenal, not only as a soloist either in concerto or in recital, but also as a chamber player, as a conductor of one of his two orchestras, and as a teacher, either at home in Moscow, at Siena every summer, and at the Kronberg International Academy. In 2003 Bashmet celebrated his 50th birthday.
In some senses the viola only achieved solo status in the 20th century and Bashmet has championed the concertante works of Bartók, Walton and (fellow violist) Hindemith, and also solo works such as Shostakovich's last ever composition, his Viola Sonata. Building from that, Bashmet has been the inspiration (if not the commissioner) of a number of contemporary works which have laid the foundation for the solo viola repertoire for a new millennium, from composers such as Alfred Schnittke, Sofia Gubaidulina, Giya Kancheli, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Valentin Bibik and Alexander Raskatov.
Yuri Bashmet was born in 1953 in Rostov-on-Don in Russia and spent his childhood in Lvov in the Ukraine. He began studying at the Moscow Conservatoire at the age of eighteen, first with Vadim Borisovsky, violist of the Beethoven Quartet, and later with Feodor Druzhinin. He subsequently became the youngest person ever to be appointed to a professorship at the Moscow Conservatoire. In 1976, Bashmet won first prize at the International Viola Competition in Munich, which launched his international career. Sony Classical released his first recording for the label this past autumn- an arrangement for viola and string orchestra of Brahms' Clarinet Quintet and Shostakovich's Quartet No.13 performed with the Moscow Soloists (SK 60550).
Yuri Bashmet has inspired many composers to write for him. He enjoyed an especially close and productive relationship with Alfred Schnittke, and premiered the composer's Viola Concerto at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 1986. The work has since become firmly established in the repertoire.
Other works written for Bashmet include Georgian composer Giya Kancheli's Viola Concerto, which the violist premiered at the Berlin Festival, The Myrrh Bearer by John Tavener, a concerto by Poul Ruders and Sofia Gubaidulina's Viola Concerto, which he premiered with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano in April 1997. Bashmet also gave the world premiere of Benjamin Britten's recently edited Double Concerto for violin and viola with Gidon Kremer and the Hallé Orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano in Manchester in February 1998.
In 1992, Bashmet began working with a new group, Moscow Soloists, which he directs himself. This group is composed of musicians nominated by professors at the Moscow Conservatoire as the cream of the new generation of string players. The Moscow Soloists have been rapturously received in Moscow, Athens, Amsterdam, Paris and at the BBC Promenade Concerts in London.
In a number of major concert halls, including La Scala in Milan and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Bashmet has been the first violist ever to give a solo recital. He has appeared on many occasions with Sviatoslav Richter and has performed chamber music with many other leading artists, including Natalia Gutman, the Borodin Quartet, Gidon Kremer, Viktoria Mullova, Mstislav Rostropovich and Maxim Vengerov.
He has appeared with nearly all the world's leading orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Montreal Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic and London's Philharmonia Orchestra. The London Symphony Orchestra presented a four-concert Yuri Bashmet festival in 1993 at the Barbican. Bashmet was "International Artist in Residence" for the 1998 Bath International Festival.
CDK Music, 2005. 75:10. DVD 9. Documentary. English subtitles.
PAL. Zone zero. 13 tracks.
Music by Telemann, Brahms, Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Byrd, Schumann, Bach, Vivaldi.
Bonus: Edvard Grieg. Norwegian Melodies. 12'
Total time: 98'
Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn