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CLASSICAL  May 2005

CLASSICAL May 2005

Subject:

Ruth Laredo Dies

From:

Scott Morrison <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 27 May 2005 16:05:56 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (91 lines)

   Ruth Laredo, Pianist Who Recorded Rachmaninoff, Dies at 67

   By DANIEL J. WAKIN
   Published: May 27, 2005
   Copyright 2005 The New York Times

   Ruth Laredo, a pianist equally at home in chamber music and solo
   works who was known for landmark recordings of Scriabin and
   Rachmaninoff, died on Wednesday at her apartment in New York.
   She was 67.

   Ms. Laredo, who played her last concert on May 6 at the Metropolitan
   Museum of Art, had cancer and died in her sleep, said her manager,
   James Murtha.

   The concert was one of a series she had given for 17 years at
   the Met called "Concerts With Commentary," in which Ms. Laredo
   played and spoke engagingly about music. The series had become
   an important part of the New York concert scene, where she was
   a frequent presence.

   Just two days after the attack on the World Trade Center, Ms.
   Laredo celebrated the 25th anniversary of her Alice Tully Hall
   debut with a recital there. It was the opening concert of the
   2001 Lincoln Center season, and Ms. Laredo addressed the audience
   beforehand, saying: "It was important for me to play. Great music
   gives us spiritual sustenance and gives us hope. It is in that
   spirit that I play tonight."

   Ms. Laredo was a pianist in the Romantic mold, a dynamic performer
   concerned with texture and color. In recent years, Mr. Murtha
   said, her career as a soloist with orchestras had waned, but she
   was comfortable with a mix of recitals, chamber concerts and
   accompanying duties.

   When she was first on the rise, in the 1970's, Ms. Laredo was a
   relative rarity as a female piano soloist, particularly in the
   technically demanding and muscular works of Rachmaninoff. There
   were only a few others - Gina Bachauer, Myra Hess and later
   Alicia de Larrocha, for example.

   "Every time we did interviews in those early days, she was asked
   how does it feel to be a woman pianist," Mr. Murtha said. "She
   wanted to be a pianist, period."

   Ruth Meckler was born in Detroit on Nov. 20, 1937. She attended
   the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she studied
   with Rudolf Serkin.  She graduated in 1960 and that same year
   married the violinist Jaime Laredo, with whom she collaborated
   musically. They later divorced. Ms. Laredo is survived by their
   daughter, Jennifer Laredo, who lives in London with her husband,
   the cellist Paul Watkins, and by a granddaughter.

   Ms. Laredo made her debut with an orchestra in 1962, in a program
   led by Leopold Stokowski conducting the American Symphony Orchestra
   at Carnegie Hall. She made her debut with the New York Philharmonic,
   conducted by Pierre Boulez, 12 years later. Her Carnegie Hall
   solo recital debut came only in 1981.

   At Curtis, Serkin schooled her in the basics of Mozart and
   Beethoven, turning a disapproving eye on her youthful love for
   Rachmaninoff. But it was with his music, as well as that of his
   fellow Russian Scriabin, that she made her mark.

   In the 1970's she recorded two pioneering and acclaimed sets:
   the entire Scriabin piano sonatas, for the now-defunct Connoisseur
   label, and the complete solo repertory of Rachmaninoff, on seven
   LP's for CBS Masterworks.

   When Ms. Laredo went to Serkin to ask if he thought she could
   handle the Rachmaninoff, he gave his blessing. " 'You must do
   it' was the answer he gave me," Ms. Laredo said in a 1987 interview
   with The New York Times.

   But preparing for the recordings was a fearsome and wearing task.
   "I had to learn the many, many Rachmaninoff pieces that no one
   plays, and I found out why no one does," she said. "It's because
   they're so hard." She later channeled her love for Rachmaninoff
   into scholarship, preparing a new edition of his piano preludes
   for the C. F. Peters music publisher.

   The Scriabin LP's came when little of his music was available
   on record, and they helped spark a surge of his popularity in
   the United States.  Ms. Laredo said that she first heard his
   music at a concert of Vladimir Horowitz and was dazzled.

   Bernard Holland, a Times music critic, wrote of her playing of
   Scriabin's music: "Ms. Laredo's sensuous, beautifully controlled
   playing caught its mad and slightly evil quality."

Scott Morrison

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