Mayumi Seiler unites the technical excellence of the Orient with the grand chamber music heritage of Germany'
Strad Magazine feature article

'Seiler brings an exceptional blend of precision with tonal generosity, finesse with enthusiasm.She persuades you to share her absorption'
BBC Music Magazine

Rare and dazzling Stravinsky
Via Salzburg,
Glenn Gould Studio, October 23, 2003

In music, as in sports, all-star assemblages don't always play that well. Music, like sports, is a collective affair, generally, and no amount of individual brilliance can beat a solid team effort.
However, on Thursday night, Mayumi Seiler of Via Salzburg manage to put together a group of brilliant first-rate players from the Toronto Symphony to concoct an absolutely dazzling performance of Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat, in its original narrated version, with Derek Boyes providing the text.

Written during the horrors of the First World War, L'histoire du soldat is one take on the ravages of war, essentially a series of Russian folktales about a pact with the devil, told in Stravinsky's quickly developing ironic musical language, where marches are out of step, harmonies slightly off-key, instruments rattling off one another in crazy combination. And each instrumentalist in Stravinsky's score has a part to play, and all performed with great gusto on Thursday night. Seiler herself turned in a fine performance on the violin, representing at times both the soldier and his Devilish tormentor. James Gardner's trumpet sounded just the right fake-martial note all night, with some tricky runs handled with ease. Joaquin Valdepenas's clarinet answered Marshall's trumpet with an eerie, hysterical wail that put one in mind of the diabolical.

Michael Sweeney showed once again why he is one of the great bassoonists in the country and Gordon Wolfe, Peter Madgett and percussionist John Rudolph each added their own special touches to the ensemble. With Boyes's narration, this was a rare opportunity to hear L'histoire as it was originally intended, in as fine a performance as one can imagine.

Oddly, the first half of the concert matched neither the tone or the mood of the second. The first half was a mini-recital by Seiler and pianist Walter Delahunt, performing two violin sonatas, one by Debussy, one by Brahms, with Delahunt also adding Robert Schumann's charming Scenes from Childhood. Seiler is a fine violinist, as she proved in the Stravinsky, but both the Debussy and the Brahms (although composed in quite different styles) demand a commitment and a sense of passion that Seiler seemed unwilling to supply. Although she and Delahunt concocted some ravishing musical moments between them, there was a perfect hardness about the surface of the music that was difficult to crack. Delahunt was more successful in his performance of the melancholy miniatures that make up Schumann's Kinderszenen, (this is the set of pieces that includes the famous Traumerei and The Poet Speaks), and coaxed a beautiful sound out of the Gould grand. Seiler and Delahunt played well in the opening half; Seiler and company played wonderfully in the second. On any night in this city's classical universe, that's a good bargain
Robert Harris, Special to the Globe and Mail,
Saturday, October 25, 2003.


Via Salzburg, Joel Quarrington, Seiler Strings Chamber Orchestra
Glenn Gould Studio,Toronto March 22, 2002

Playing for all they're worth
The Seiler Strings Chamber Orchestra, house band of the Via Salzburg concert series, is another of those small, savvy, vital Toronto ensembles -- like Tafelmusik, Amici, the Toronto Consort and Opera in Concert -- who take the trouble to discover their particular audiences and have figured out how to tempt and engage them. They perform with passion and dedication and tend to sell out.

On Friday night at the Glenn Gould Studio, Via Salzburg did it again. Mayumi Seiler, the elegant young principal violin and leader of the group, handed the spotlight to its principal double bass, Joel Quarrington.

Quarrington in turn captivated the capacity audience with two works by Giovanni Bottesini, the acknowledged -- perhaps the only -- master among 19th-century composers devoted to the largest and lowest-voiced member of the violin family. Bottesini made the double bass jump, as no one before him had done. His music was pretty good, too, but it was its Paganinian high-wire display that gave it celebrity, and we only hear it when an individual bass player has the skill and wit to bring it off. Not many have, but Quarrington has. He first made a touching communication of Bottesini's Elegy. Then, matched move-for-move by his duo partner, violinist Seiler, and animated by an instinctive and exuberant hilarity, he made a proper joy ride of the same composer's Grand Duo.

The two virtuosos, backed by the orchestra in the true spirit of the thing, turned what could have been po-faced, clamp-jawed pyrotechnics into a kind of Anna Russell dissertation-without-words on Italian grand opera. It was enough Bottesini to last me for another year or two, but it was a riot, and the audience cheered it. We had real music, too: Mozart's big, simple, unprofound, but sonically remarkable (with timpani) Serenata notturna in D, K.239 to open the program, and Bartok's marvellous Divertimento for Strings to end it. The Mozart had a vigorous performance, the Bartok an idiosyncratic but engrossing one. Seiler was a pupil of the great Hungarian violinist Sandor Vegh, who knew Bartok, and her wayward, highly inflected approach to the music's kaleidoscope of rhythms doubtless had its origins in the Bartokian idiom as Vegh purveyed it. The music certainly lived and breathed, and Seiler's happy band of strings played it for all they were worth. Viva Via Salzburg.
Ken Winters, Globe and Mail
March 25, 2002


Via Salzburg, Steven Isserlis
Glenn Gould Studio,Toronto, February 5, 2002

English cellist triumphs
English cellist Steven Isserlis strode onto the stage at the Glenn Gould Studio last night with his delectable Stradivarius instrument to show us what great musicianship means. Isserlis seemingly glided through a program that challenged not only the standards of virtuosity but also of musicality, triumphing over every obstacle to gorgeously shape phrases and pluck out textures.

The cellist began with J.S. Bach's Suite No. 5 in C Minor (BWV 1011), one of the German master's monuments to Western music. The interpretation indulged in romantic contrast without compromising limpid tonal texture. His cello alternately sang and wailed in the space's generous acoustics.

The rest of the program stayed resolutely in the 20th century. An affecting rendition of John Tavener's plaintive Thrinos preceded a brave foray through Benjamin Britten's bumpy Suite No. 3, Op 87.
Isserlis was joined in this Via Salzburg recital by violinist Mayumi Seiler in Maurice Ravel's alternately aggressive and voluptuous Duo For Violin And Cello. Through this excellent rendition, Seiler played the tightly wound spring to Isserlis' loose-limbed trance.
The cellist ended the official program with Inner World, by Carl Vine. This rich piece, which mixed live cello with electronically altered samples on two loudspeakers, was both accessible and viscerally rewarding "every sound is carved from the string, hair and wood with loving care," in the composer's own words.

It would be a shame to waste this sweet music-making on a one-night audience in a small venue, so keep your eyes peeled for two upcoming broadcasts of this concert on CBC's Radio Two.
John Terauds, TORONTO STAR

Via Salzburg Opening Concert 2001/2002 Season
Toronto October 29, 2001

Violinist and Via Salzburg artistic director Mayumi Seiler last night found herself headlining the opening concert of this stimulating chamber group's third season because the scheduled Hagen Quartet cancelled its North American tour. No one in the packed Glenn Gould Studio is likely to complain at the substitution, however, for Seiler and three splendid colleagues did them proud with three works that challenged players from start to finish. The vitality of the musicians' interplay was palpable as soon as they tackled Mendelssohn's Piano Trio In D Minor, which demands a careful balance between strong independent voices and the work as a whole. With warmth and expansiveness Seiler, cellist Roman Borys and pianist Rena Sharon made the music flow effortlessly through the dramatic first movement and succeeding segments that offer equal helpings of serenity and light-heartedness, poignancy and joy before a compelling finale.

With the Serenade For String Trio by Hungary's Erno Dohnanyi (grandfather of long-term Cleveland Symphony conductor Christoph) the challenge was somewhat different - how to balance simplicity and virtuosity in the five concentrated movements of a tricky, bewitching work. The two strings, joined by violist Steven Dann, took a while to establish the right emotional focus but mostly overcame punishingly difficult shifts of rhythm and mood with great aplomb. All four players displayed gratifying poise in Brahms' great Piano Quartet In G Minor that like the Dohnanyi uses an uncommon combination of instrumental voices. They grasped the vision of a composer who was well aware that expressions of sorrow and happiness are musically close and gave to the Quartet the shape and design it needs, all angles sharpened to a fine point. The concluding Gypsy Rondo was delivered with blazing gusto.
Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star,
October 30, 2001


Via Salzburg Final Concert
Toronto June 10, 2000

"The Seiler Sisters closed out Via Salzburg's impressive debut season Saturday with a refined examination of three European works that bodes well for the chamber group's future. Founder and Artistic Director Mayumi Seiler on violin was joined by her three siblings - violist Naomi, cellist Yuri and violinist Midori- at a sold-out Glenn Gould Studio for the established quartet's first Canadian concert, one that was dedicated to their late Japanese mother Mie. The fab four were born two years apart to parents who were classical pianists, but you could believe they were really quadruplets, given the degree of intuitive interplay and elegant co-ordination on display.

....Their co-operative musicianship allowed for both clarity and density, enabling them to achieve a genuine, vivid synthesis of oriental expertise and European creativity that demonstrated a stylistically unified vision.
The Seilers brought to it ( the Dvorak ) a vigorous commitment and some rapturously expressive playing that gave it a fierce, unflickering inner glow maintained right through to the ebullient climax. A most fitting closer for an inaugural season that has delivered much of what it promised "
Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra
Toronto March 31, 2000

" In future one of the best roads to our musical hearts may well run via Salzburg. That's because Toronto has a new permanent chamber orchestra named by founder Mayumi Seiler for the Austrian city where she was raised. Seiler, who's assembled a team including leading players, added to concert interest by having the orchestra play without the benefit of conductor. Instead, as lead violin, she set the pace, doubtless praying her fellow musicians were at their attentive best....Seiler's troops delivered brisk outer pieces, the ensemble proceeded with well-oiled care and concern for detail. The modest Seiler, who has appeared on several CDs, let herself be front and centre on Vivaldi's "Summer" quadrant of his Four Seasons concertos......She energized the familiar strains with grace and agility on her ancient Guadagnini violin, drawing from it reaponsive tones and sound that were refined as well as dramatic. Her ardour communicated to her colleagues, who were abuzz with ebullience in their programmatic passages. Barber's Adagio, justly famed for its formal beauty, was delivered with all the virtues of its well-crafted simplicity and sly surprise, mournful cellos and glowing violins in altissimo registers making its emotional warmth glowing. Dvorak's Serenade for Strings, his first real success, became almost a bucolic outing with pleasing treatments in particular of its whirling waltz, skittering scherzo and flashy finale."
Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star,
April 2, 2000


" Not too many chamber orchestras make the grade...Mayumi Seiler's newborn Via Salzburg Chamber Orchestra, which made an auspicious debut at the Glenn Gould Studio on Friday, is an exception, especially on the tonal front. Warm, focused, unforced and for the most part very much in tune, the sound of Seiler's elite band of string players put one at ease from the first few bars of the concert...Elgar's Serenade for Strings in E minor was indeed a treat. Solid inner voices, the Mahlerian shifts up the string with just enough portamento to stimulate an emotional catch in the throat, and an overall sense of languor were the very ticket for this gem of a piece...in 'Summer' from Vivaldi's Four Seasons....Seiler's solo performance was brilliant - easily better than at least half a dozen recordings on the market"
Elissa Poole - The Globe and Mail,
April 3, 2000

Via Salzburg Second Concert
Toronto December 18, 1999
" ...the second concert of the debut season of (Mayumi Seiler's )welcome and heavily attended new chamber series...in an engaging reading of Brahms' Horn Trio ..long beautifully expressive phrases - sustained by Sommerville with remarkable breath control. As for Nakamichi, she also demonstrated why she won first prize at the Mendelssohn Competition in Berlin, turning in a performance so virtuosic in scale..This concert deserved to be encored"
Willian Littler, The Toronto Star

" Mayumi Seiler then joined Nakamichi for Brahms' Violin Sonata No.3...Seiler showed real imagination. Phrases were shaped emphatically, but without mannerism; she showed particular discrimination in moving the bow closer or further from the fingerboard to vary her sound according to context.(about pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi)...There was evidence of careful analysis of the music: She brought out internal lines that could easily have remained hidden and weighted harmonies so that suspensions and dissonances had their full expressive due. Taken as a whole, ( the Brahms Trio) was a thoroughly atmospheric performance and full of telling detail"
Brian Hunt, The National Post

" Violinist Mayumi Seiler and horn player James Sommerville, performing with Japanese pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi....were an intriguing match...Somerville...defined a big range, one where a lyric intimacy moved easily into exhilarating virtuosity. Seiler...(is) one whose capacity for passion is never out of view. The ensemble was neat; the energy level was high; and certainly there was no doubt that the music was in more than capable hands"
Elissa Poole, The Globe and Mail

Via Salzburg Opening Concert
Toronto October 22, 1999

' The atmosphere was charged and the box office was sold out for the Axelrod String Quartet's performance at Glenn Gould Studio...there were inspired and beautifully executed ideas...Seiler's violin...did indeed have a lovely singing tone...supple and varied articulation...it is Seiler's bow arm that should carry the higher insurance. Dann seemed to have found the very soul of his viola.."
Elissa Poole, The Globe & Mail,
Oct 25, 1999


' The series could hardly have enjoyed a more dramatic launch. Friday night ( the Strads ) breathed freely and with tremendous benefit to the music of Mozart, Mendelssohn and Janacek...Fine string instruments need exercise, and the quartet provided it in expert fashion. ....As for the Mendelssohn, his rapid passage work thrives on the responsiveness of such instruments, as Seiler and company demonstrated in the outer movements...a pity the sheer cost of the instruments will likely deny us another chance to hear the Strad-equipped Axelrod Quartet. Both the instruments and their players merit more than a blue moon outing."
William Littler, The Toronto Star,
Oct 24, 1999


Mayumi Seiler in Recital
Toronto March 26, 1999:

'In recital were violinist Mayumi Seiler and pianist Aleksandar Madzar, both building a substantial reputation on the international circuit. Seiler, who is of Japanese-German parentage and Madzar, who was born in Yugoslavia, attacked the piece with passion and gusto from the opening Allegro molto. Both performers embraced the challenge, responding with sensitivity and intelligence..... that's a welcome change from one or two of the modern crop of violinists. Her technique is totally secure, the sound is wonderfully warm and robust. It's cool fire...'
Robert Crew, Toronto Star

Mayumi Seiler with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
April 1995 and March 1998

'... it was natural for London-based Mayumi Seiler to turn to it (Mendelssohn Violin Concerto ) when she was asked to stand in for Gil Shaham. Nobody minded the relaxed informality of her outfit, and she was given wild applause after she coursed through the familiar bars with the skill and musical insight of her long professional experience.'
Ronald Hambleton, Toronto Star

' It was the classic nightmare of conductors and orchestra administrators...As luck would have it, London-based violinist Mayumi Seiler was in town visiting a friend and valiantly agreed to step in. On two and a half hours notice, with no rehearsal other than a meeting with guest conductor Hugh Wolff 30 minutes before curtain time, she walked onstage to perform Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor - a work she has recorded for Virgin Classics. Despite the nerve wracking circumstances, Seiler did an admirable job on her TSO debut. The sound she draws out of her Guadagnini violin is remarkably sweet - It's not surprising to learn that chamber music occupies an important place in her career.'
Tamara Bernstein, The Globe and Mail

' Mayumi is exceptionally imaginative and hers is the best recording of the Mendelssohn that I've heard '
Ruggero Ricci as quoted in the Globe and Mail,
February 1998


'Seiler applies a singing tone and expressive shaping of phrases to both works '
Review of both Mendelssohn concerti on Virgin Classics by William Littler, Toronto Star

'Mayumi Seiler, a young and very highly regarded violinist...pays more attention to dynamic markings than do many other performers in the catalogue, and when she does add rubato, it is done with artistry and discretion.The slow movement is well handled, and it reaffirms Seiler's well-rounded tonal quality and her impeccable intonation. Let us hope we hear Seiler in a less crowded market.'
The Strad...review of Beethoven Concerto on Virgin Classics

'Beethoven Violin Concerto...she is duly respectful of the piece, tackling this most audacious of violin concertos with passionate conviction and a certain amount of technical bravado '
CD REVIEW, England

' The solo part of Haydn's violin Concerto #1 in C major...Mayumi Seiler found a convincing balance between sparkling energy and poised classical style '
The Daily Telegraph , London England

'Mayumi Seiler plays and directs with conviction, keeping the rhythms firm, and it is a pleasure to hear such natural balance of solo instrument against the strings. '
HI-FI News and Record Review

' The passion of the first violinist Mayumi Seiler assures the function of a leader with the force of irresistible conviction '
Diapason....France