Frankly Music Goes Back to Bach

The Frankly Music chamber music season begins this Monday night at a new venue.

By - Sep 26th, 2014 03:48 pm
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The Frankly Music chamber music season begins with “Back to Bach” on September 29th, Monday at 7:00 p.m. They will perform their first two concerts at a new venue – Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Trumpeter Mark Niehaus

Trumpeter Mark Niehaus

Frank Almond has built a reputation for this series by combining guest artists with the best of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra players. The first concert features an ensemble of players playing two of JS Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos (nos. 2 and 4). Written as a showpiece to impress a potential employer, each gem features diverse instrumental solos.

The trumpet solo in Brandenburg Concerto No 2 stands out. This part would be difficult for a flute to play; it’s one of the most difficult trumpet parts ever written. Frank was able to entice MSO President and Executive Director (and former MSO trumpet first chair) Mark Niehaus to pull out his trumpet for the occasion. Recent MSO first chairs Sonora Slocum, flute and Katherine Young Steele, oboe are also featured.

Frequent guest violist, Nicolas Corda with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and the Brooklyn Rider Quartet will also appear. He will join Frank Almond in a work by Bohuslav Martinu – Three Madrigals. The work allows a balanced duet that Almond calls, “seamless, like the Mozart duos.” Almond continues, “It is uncommon to write brilliantly for each instrument if it’s done right you are actually hearing more than two instruments sometimes in the mix of sonorities.”

Violist Nicoloas Corda

Violist Nicoloas Corda

The program also includes a lovely transcription by Mozart, Prelude and Fugue in F for String Trio (the 4th in a set of six) of selections of Bach’s keyboard masterpiece The Art of the Fugue.

The Frankly Music series returns to Saint Paul’s on Monday November 24th for an all string concert featuring Richard Strauss and Mozart. The Strauss Metamorphosen version for septet offers a more transparent perspective than the full orchestra version. “In certain ways, I prefer it,” Almond said. “It doesn’t sound like a transcription. The dialogue is very clear – (allowing) nuance and shaping in the scoring and nimbleness of a small group.”

Almond is looking forward to the larger east side venue which allows serving all Frankly Music patrons in a single evening. “I like the acoustics. It’s a larger venue that still captures the intimacy of what we do.”

The series returns to its long term west side location on the Wisconsin Lutheran College campus on Tuesday, February 10th. Almond selected works associated with the “Lipinski” Stradivarius. Almond has published a CD of such works. These choices may be the basis for a second CD. Frequent collaborator pianist William Wolfram returns. The concert features Robert Schumann’s masterwork Piano Quartet, Op 47. The organizing principle for the program is stretched a bit to accommodate the quartet. There is near certainty that Karol Lipinski played his violin at soirees at the Schumann household. A rarely played Sonata in B minor for Violin and Piano (1878) by Amanda Röntgen-Maier fits the program because her son once owned the “Lipinski.”

Aoleus Quartet

Aoleus Quartet

The final program in the series Monday May 8th at Wisconsin Lutheran College will feature the Aeolus Quartet, a new young group currently the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Julliard School. They will play Debussy’s String Quartet and a work by Stravinsky. They will join pianist Winston Choi and Almond for a major work by Chausson, Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet. This is Choi’s first appearance in the Frankly Music series, although he has performed frequently in Milwaukee since joining the faculty at Roosevelt University at Chicago.

Details for the September 29th concert: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located at 914 E Knapp St in downtown Milwaukee.Tickets may be purchased at the door ($35) or in advance through the Frankly Music website ($30). Student tickets are available for $10. Or take advantage of the new Frankly Music Friends membership program: Pay $50, then purchase tickets for family and friends (up to 10) at 20% off. Discounts apply to CD’s and t-shirts as well. (Apply your savings to a tax-free donation to Frankly Music to sustain this fine series.)

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