Today we learned that Maestro Eri Klas passed away.
We have been fortunate to share moments with him. We met him at the January 2001 Barbican Schnittke retrospective “Seeking the Soul” and then, in March of the same year, we shared a dinner at our little Sunnyside house before his legendary Calgary all Tchaikovsky concert, during which he simply blew the top off of Jack Singer Hall with the best Francesca da Rimini performance ever, bringing the audience on their feet after the first piece of the program!
It was then followed by an unforgettable Tchaikovsky 5th symphony, as if he had opened a window into Tolstoy’s War and Peace world. Eri was not only conducting an orchestra but also his audience: an inescapable time machine! This concert was recorded and broadcasted by CBC Calgary that year.
The CPO re-invited him in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and then the VSO, with Tchaikovsky 4th and during his last visit in 2007 Eri conducted Shostakovitch 15th symphony. Orchestras must have known he had been a boxer in his youth and when he gave me a little tap on the shoulder after handing him a few pictures I took of his Barbican concert, one could not forget this biographical detail!
Yet, none of these Canadian orchestras thought to bring Maestro Klas direct connection with Alfred Schnittke to their audience. Worse, when Eri kindly accepted our idea of conducting the Vancouver CBC Radio Orchestra in Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano & String with Svetlana as the soloist, intrigues by a CBC producer led to the cancellation of this dearest project of ours.
Finally, in 2007 Eri visited our Vancouver home, loving the view, the Meursault and our infant son’s first Steinway dabbling’s. We like to think of Eri as his musical godfather.
Maestro Eri Klas, we’ll miss you
|With Eri Klas, at Bacchus in Vancouver 2005|