From an early age, Alexander Fiterstein felt a kinship with the clarinet. His dedication to the instrument eventually brought him together with pianist Alon Goldstein and cellist Amit Peled, forming the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein Trio in 2005.
The trio will perform works by Beethoven, Brahms and Debussy at the third concert of the season from Concerts International, the organization that has presented world-class chamber groups to Memphis for 41 years.
Apart, Goldstein, Peled and Fiterstein are power hitters who have made their marks as soloists.
Goldstein has performed here twice with the IRIS Orchestra, doing memorable renditions of Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 2. Peled appeared with IRIS last year, playing Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor.
Fiterstein, who is making his first Memphis visit, has a notable solo career with several awards, including first prize in the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition in 2001.
But he has a special love for chamber work. "You get to work with people you want to work with," he says, "so you have a lot of freedom putting together programs. This trio is a good example of that."
The clarinet fits in well with chamber music, he says. "It's nice to have the ability to play with different types of instruments. It offers a special opportunity for blending and gets an interesting sonority."
Fiterstein began playing piano at age 5, but found himself drawn to the clarinet. "I was always attracted to the sound of the instrument," he says."We had records at home of the Berlin Philharmonic playing all the Beethoven symphonies, and I always liked the sound of the clarinet better than any other instrument."
His parents' Benny Goodman records were another influence. "Everything together was directing me toward to clarinet. And I liked it because my family didn't take it seriously. The piano was something you had to be serious about, but the clarinet, you know, they didn't really think anything of it and I liked that. So it was really fun for me."
Fiterstein says accessibility is the key to getting young people involved in classical music, especially in this day of multiple entertainment options.
"A lot of classical music is friendly and accessible, but it requires more from the listener than some other forms of entertainment," he says. "The more we expose young people at an early age makes the connection that much stronger. Showing them how fun it is to listen and especially to play is one of the things we can do."