Even though many years have passed since my participation in several MFM tours, my memories from those tours have remained fresh and vibrant. What a thrill it was to collaborate with Marlboro legends Pina Carmirelli, Felix Galimir, Isidore Cohen, and Philipp Naegele! The impact of their artistry and immense experience has lasted throughout my own musical life. We young musicians, some of whom have become lifelong friends and chamber music partners, also gained invaluable experience in how to deal with traveling and then performing nearly every day at important venues. Traveling alone can be lonely and stressful, but traveling with your Marlboro friends was always fun, even during blizzards or while experiencing flight delays.
In March 1983, I joined Isidore Cohen, Robert Routch, James Tyeska, Ah Ling Neu, Mei-Chen Liao, and Robie Brown Dan for a West Coast tour (California and Utah) that included Beethoven “Scottish” Songs, a Haydn Quartet, and the Brahms Horn Trio. We always rented two cars and drove great distances, and we were a very congenial group. Our last concert was in Ventura, CA, and the next day, Bob, Robie, and I were in one car, with Izzy, James, Ah Ling, and Mei Chen in the other, driving to LAX. Izzy was driving faster than Bob, and he got way ahead of us on the freeway. Suddenly we noticed that the police had pulled over a car, and lo and behold, it was Izzy! Since we all had flights to catch, we waved and honked but did not stop.
When I returned to Marlboro in 1998, Izzy and I were reminiscing about various past performances. I mentioned our MFM tour with the Brahms Horn Trio because I had truly enjoyed those performances with him and Bob. Izzy shook his head and said: “We played the Brahms Horn Trio together? I don’t remember that.” I could not believe that he had forgotten our tour. But when I mentioned the speeding ticket on the LA freeway, it all came back, and we had a good laugh!
In October 1974 and January 1975, Felix Galimir, Peter Zazofsky, Kim Kashkashian, Nancy Ellis, Sharon Robinson and I performed a program with a Brahms String Quintet and alternated the Dvorak Piano Quartet in E Flat, Op. 87 with the Fauré Piano Quartet in C minor for an East Coast and Midwest tour. During our rehearsals of the Dvorak, Felix, Kim, Sharon, and I often had lively discussions and exchanges of musical ideas, as we always do at Marlboro. When we came to the last movement of the Dvorak, my tempo was a bit faster than Felix’s, and this difference of opinion continued throughout the tour concerts! We had a lot of fun playing the Dvorak, but the last movement would often start more deliberately but speed up as it progressed. After the tour, Felix was always so thoughtful and generous and gave each of us a small gift, along with a note. When I opened my gift, it was a beautiful framed portrait of Dvořák, and Felix had written in the first three measures of the last movement of the Dvořák. He underscored the last three words of the tempo marking, Allegro ma non troppo, and then wrote, “It was great! Many thanks, Felix.”