Joseph (most affectionately known as “Yossi”) Kalichstein, who died March 31 at the age of 76, was a towering artistic influence. His innate yet deeply educated musicianship, technical wizardry, extraordinary imagination, and irresistible charisma, charmed, awed and inspired audiences, colleagues, and students for the breadth of his rich professional life. And CMS is indeed grateful that he chose to make chamber music a major focus, forming the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio in 1976, which continued, remarkably, through a full program in Phoenix on March 17th.
Yossi’s musical life intersected with my own in multiple ways. By coincidence, my string quartet, the Emerson, was also formed in 1976 (I joined the group in 1979) and our two ensembles enjoyed a 25th anniversary tour together during the 2001-02 season, which featured in addition to a string quartet and piano trio, collaborative works which mixed our groups together. I cannot recall a tour which was more fun and inspiring.
In 1996 we both joined the faculty of the Isaac Stern Chamber Music Encounters in Jerusalem. It was in this intense setting, with hours of teaching together every day, that we learned so much from Yossi. His verbal skills produced unforgettable images and ideas that went to the core of the music without intellectual rigor or intimidation. We were more than fortunate to be able to teach with him in this setting more than once.
Joseph Kalichstein first appeared with CMS in January of 1981, performing the Faure Piano Quartet No. 2 with violinist Ani Kavafian, violist Walter Trampler, and cellist Leonard Rose. He subsequently appeared on numerous concerts, most often bringing his illustrious ensemble with him for both piano trios and collaborative works with CMS artists. In 2012 the KLR Trio gave the world premiere at CMS of André Previn’s Piano Trio. And very sadly, CMS was looking forward to Yossi’s return with the trio return in the spring of 2023. We shall miss him in so many ways, and on behalf of CMS, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, colleagues, students, and his dear friends.
—David Finckel and Wu Han