Kenneth Weiss, harpsichord & conductor Kenneth Weiss was born in New York City where he attended the High School of Performing Arts. After studying with Lisa Goode Crawford at the Oberlin Conservatory he continued with Gustav Leonhardt at the Sweelinck Consertorium in Amsterdam.
From 1990-1993 he was Musical Assistant to William Christie at Les Arts Florissants for numerous opera productions and recordings. He later conducted Les Arts Florissants in 'Doux Mensonges' by the chreographer Jiri Kylian at the Paris Opera, and was co-director with William Christie of the first three editions of Les Arts Florissants' 'Jardin de Voix' program.
Kenneth Weiss focuses on recitals, chamber music, teaching and conducting. His most recent recitals include Nuremburg, Montpellier, Barcelona, Dijon, Geneva, Antwerp, the Cite de la musique (Paris), Madrid, La Roque d'Anthéron, Santander, Lisbon, San Sebastian, Innsbruck, Santiago de Compostela, La Chaise Dieu, La Chaud de Fonds, Bruges and New York.. He performs in recital with the violinists Fabio Biondi, Daniel Hope, Monica Huggett and Lina Tur Bonet.
In collaboration with the choreographer Trisha Brown, Kenneth Weiss was musical director of 'M.O.', a ballet on Bach's Musical Offering, first performed at La Monnaie in Brussels. He was also musical director of the Aix-en-Provence European Music Academy's staged productions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and a Monteverdi madrigal program. Both productions were revived at the Lille, Monte-Carlo and Bordeaux operas. He has conducted staged performances of Mozart's Mariage of Figaro at the Cité de la musique in Paris and Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea in Bilbao and Oviedo. He has also conducted The English Concert, Concerto Copenhagen, Orquesta de Salamanca, Divino Sospiro, Orchestre de Rouen, the Ensemble orchestral de Basse-Normandie, Orchestre National des Pays de Loire and the Orchestre des Pays de Savoie.
In 2013 Kenneth Weiss performs Bach's Goldberg Variations at the Paris Salle Cortot as part of the Orchestre de Chambre Paris season, the Well Tempered Clavier in San Francisco, and in the Festivals of Cordes sur Ciel, Villevieille and Sinfonia en Périgord, a programme of extracts from his two virginalist recordings ‘A Cleare Day’ and ‘Heaven & Earth’ in the Boston Early Music Festival, Saint-Riquier Festival, Laus Polyphoniae festival in Antwerp and in the Paris Baroque Festival. He also performs as a soloist in Bach's Brandenburg Concertos with the Stavanger Orchestra directed by Fabio Biondi and accompanies the soprano Carolyn Sampson in a Carnegie Hall recital in New York. Among his 2014 project are a Well Tpmpered Clavier recital at the Cité de la musique in Paris, recitals in the Centre de Musique Baroque Rameau project, a Scarlatti recital in Madrid, a Netherlands tour following a Brussels virginalist recital, and several recitals with Fabio Biondi in the America and at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.
In 2001 Satirino records released the first in a series of highly acclaimed solo harpsichord recordings by Kenneth Weiss: Bach's Partitas, Scarlatti Sonatas, Rameau Opera and Ballet transcriptions (on two of the historical instruments in the Musée de la musique in Paris), an album including Bach's Italian Concerto, French Overture and the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, Scarlatti's ‘Essercizi per gravicembalo’ in coproduction with the Madrid Caja Bank's Spanish music label, Los SIGLOS de ORO, a live recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations and most recently 'A Cleare Day', a live recording of selections from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. New releases in 2011 include Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord with Fabio Biondi and the violin sonatas of Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre with the violinist Lina Tur Bonet. In June 2013 a new album of extracts from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, 'Heaven & Earth', will be released, recorded in concert during the Contrepoints 62 festival in the Pas de Calais department of France. 2013 also sees Kenneth Weiss's recording of Bach's Well Tempered Clavier at the Cité de la musique in Paris on the historic Ruckers-Taskin belonging to the Musée de la musique.
Kenneth Weiss is faculty at the Paris Conservatory and the Juilliard School.
The Washington Post, Juilliard Baroque at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, By Robert Battey, Monday, April 16, 2012
'The second half offered vibrant performances of the Overture No. 2.... and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. In the latter, harpsichordist Kenneth Weiss navigated the huge cadenza with clean fingerwork and dramatic pacing. His ornamentation and agogic freedom in the slow movement were exemplary, as well...'
The New York Times, 26 September 2011, review of 'A Cleare Day' recital, Musique Before 1800, by Allan Kozinn
'Kenneth Weiss, though born and trained in New York, has built a distinguished career in Europe as a harpsichordist and opera conductor. Lately, he has also spent a lot of time at the Juilliard School, where he is on the faculty of the historical performance program and where his performances both as a continuo harpsichordist in Juilliard Baroque and as a recitalist have been ear-catching and edifying: most notably, in a dramatic traversal of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations in January... The clarity and focus that Mr. Weiss brought to his readings put the ingenuity of these composers in high relief... Mr. Weiss played with a graceful sense of line that transformed these dance pieces into full-fledged concert works.' Complete review : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/arts/music/kenneth-weiss-in-music-before-1800-review.html?_r=1&ref=music
Diapason, June 2011, Philippe Ramin
'A superbly recorded live CD, this album demonstrates remarkable subtlety of touch and phrasing. With his admirable capacity for rhythmic stability, Weiss masters the sheer virtuosity and throws new light on the almost orchestral polyphonic complexity of this music. He transcends the interminable harmonic scrolls to hypnotic heights... A powerfully imaginative reading by an musician at the zenith of his art.'
The New York Times, February 2nd, 2011, Allan Kozinn
'Kenneth Weiss... offered a disarmingly straightforward yet surprisingly dramatic view of the work on Monday evening at the school’s Paul Hall. There was little flashiness, as such, in Mr. Weiss’s reading on the harpsichord. His changes of coloration over the course of the set were subtle, and he played the repeats with virtually no modifications, apart from adding a touch of rallentando to the final bar or simply a slight pause before the final note.
'But in slower variations, he played with a fluid rubato that often gave Bach’s top lines an almost
voicelike flexibility. In faster ones, his playing was often unusually driven, though never so aggressive
that the transparency of Bach’s textures or the distinct profiles of his individual lines were sacrificed.
And as the performance unfolded, it became clear that Mr. Weiss was presenting the work as two
simultaneous, tightly entwined dramas, one intellectual (the compositional twists in the variations
grow increasingly involved) and one visceral and emotional (they also grow more pointedly virtuosic).
When he returned to the Aria, after the 30th Variation ... his interpretation was not fundamentally different from the one he had given when he began the work, 75 minutes earlier. But you had the sense of having been somewhere, and the Aria itself sounded stronger for it.'
(Goldberg Variations at the Juilliard School)
BBC Music Magazine - July 2004 - Nicholas Anderson - Rameau, Satirino Records
"As a former musical assistant to Willaim Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Weiss knows very well how to translate the varied gestures and kinetic energy of Rameau's beguiling dances from the orchestra pit to the manuels of a harpsichord. His playing, refined in its technique and communicative in its inflections, pulsates with life, vividly evoking Pygmalion's sculptor's hammer at one moment and the many colourful vignettes of Les Indes galantes at the next. an exhilarating recital, with a recording that faithfully captures the character of two fine instruments by Goujon (c1740) and Hemsch (1761)."
Gramophone - January 2003 - John Duarte - Scarlatti, Satirino Records
"Kenneth Weiss. offers a mixed programme, superbly played at well-judged tempi and recorded with clarity."
Le Monde - 5 January 2002 - Renaud Machart - Bach Partitas, Satirino Records
"This young American harpsichordist. tackling one of the pinnacles of keyboard music, has produced a masterpiece. His calm, composed and subtle approach to these dance suites is magnificently noble. ["Sarabande" de la Partita n°6] In this central piece, Weiss seems to be improvising at the same time as sustaining the spinal column of this superiorly written elegy. We also appreciate the accentuated rubato but very perfection of taste of the allemandes, and his 'ouverture' to the Partita n°4, impeccably upright."
Diapason - November 2001 - Jean-Luc Macia - Bach Partitas, Satirino Records
"Kenneth Weiss is a brilliant musician, distinguished and inventive, to whom we owe, among others, an excellent recording of the Goldberg Variations. (in the 6 Partitas) Weiss's nimble playing, vigorous and poetic, compels admiration. his unbridled yet always controlled virtuosity show him to be a born musician, undeniably gifted with expressive means."
Nouvel Observateur - October 2001 - Jacques Drillon - Bach Partitas, Satirino Records
"It meditates, dreams, at the same time as being controlled with a firm hand. Could we have imagined, ten years ago, that Bach would be presented in such an expressive, expressionist, free and easy, flexible way?"
Le Temps - Geneva - 6 October 2001- Julian Sykes - Bach Partitas, Satirino Records
"This Bach stretches, overflows, dares unexpected slow tempi and explores new territory. the first Partitas are exceptionally poetic. The fourth explodes in a multi-coloured fireworks display.. The sixth reaches zeniths of inspiration."
Télégramme de Brest - 20 October 2001
"To the technical prowess and sobriety of these great performers (Gustav Leonhardt and Glenn Gould), Kenneth Weiss adds a refinement, joy and sensuality that we are little used to associating with the harpsichord. His playing is flowing and velvet-like."
Recital programmesIn 2012 and 2013 Kenneth Weiss will be concentrating on an all-English music programme of works from the Fitzwilliam Virgonal Book, in the first half, followed by Purcell and his comptemporaries, and Handel - his new Fitzwilliam Virginal Book recording, 'A Cleare Day' was released in early 2011.
Also available are Bach's Goldberg Variations and Scarlatti sonata programmes based on the repertoire of his recordings. Programmes of repertoire from his other Satirino Records recordings are also available, as well as a French music programme including some works from his Rameau recording.
The violinist Fabio Biondi proposes a programme of Bach violin sonatas with Kenneth Weiss.
Kenneth Weiss has recently recorded a CD of violin sonatas by Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre with the Spanish violinist Lina Tur Bonet, and Patxi Montero, viola da gamba. Together they propose a concert programme of music by Jacquet de la Guerre, Rameau, Marais and several members of the Couperin family.
Kenneth Weiss also has a rich, long-standing artistic relationship with the Catalan countertenor Xavier Sabata whom he is a recital accompanist.
Kenneth Weiss on iTunes