A Truly International Show

Fine Arts Quartet will perform with South African-based piano duo in a German work that hasn’t been performed -- anywhere -- in 200 years.

By - Jan 29th, 2015 05:07 pm
Fine Arts Quartet - violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, cellist Robert Cohen and violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez

Fine Arts Quartet – violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, cellist Robert Cohen and violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez

The now complete Fine Arts Quartet – violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, cellist Robert Cohen and violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez will perform their third concert of the season at 3:00 PM, Sunday, February 1st.

But first, a remarkable back-story:

Luis Magalhaes, from Portugal, and Nina Schumann, from South Africa, choose the University of North Texas to pursue professional degrees in piano performance. Working together on piano duo concerts, they fell in love, married and moved to South Africa. Both teach at University of Stellenbosch. They founded the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in 2004, which has quickly become the best-known chamber music festival on the African continent. They also created their own recording company and performing name – TwoPianists – to distribute their own music and those of others in the region. Their recordings are being noticed. An review of one of their releases observed – “The virtuosic skills of both Schumann and Magalhães is impressive, but the ability to completely energize the music and draw the listener in completely.. is all the more exciting.”

Luis Magalhaes and Nina Schumann, the TwoPianist piano duo

Luis Magalhaes and Nina Schumann, the TwoPianist piano duo

One of their infrequent tours to the United States includes a January stop in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. That’s where the Fine Arts Quartet comes in. Recent bold programming has included a Spanish soprano in a unique interpretation of Handel‘s “Seven Last Words of Christ” and a one-of-a-kind accordian/string quartet combination by contemporary Russian composer Efrim Podgaits. Ralph Evans, first violin, took on the challenge of locating a suitable work for piano duo and string quartet.

“Then, by accident,” Evan says, “I stumbled upon an article written about a forgotten composer Jan Ladislav Dussek. Dussek seems to have been a close friend and musical confidant of his patron, the Royal Highness Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and therefore, on Oct 9, 1806, the 34 year old Prince was one of the pianists who performed the world premiere of Dussek’s new piano concerto for 2 pianos and orchestra (probably Dussek was the other pianist).” Dussek, also a piano virtuoso, wrote extensively for piano – including more than 18 piano concertos and other works. “What especially caught my attention,” Evans continues, “was the revelation that the Prince and presumably Dussek performed with string quartet instead of orchestra.” Further research revealed that “the Biblioteca Nacional de Espana had preserved all but one of those original Pleyel (piano) parts in manuscript form, but there was no extant score of the chamber version. Still, we’ve been able to piece together everything we need for our concert.” The work, occasionally performed in the duo piano concerto version, “may be receiving,” Evans concludes, “its first public performance for piano duo and string quartet since the early 19th Century!”

The work, entitled the “Grande Simphonie Concertante for Two Pianos and String Quartet, Op.63,” will be performed by the quartet with pianists Magalhaes and Schumann.

Magalhaes and Schumann will also perform a short duo piano contemporary composition by John Adams – “Hallelujah Junction.’ This very approachable work is full of energy. Evans says, adding, “It should be loud, lively, and a lot of fun to listen to.”

The program opens with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s String Quartet in A major (K464) – a favorite of Evans who finds it “one of Mozart’s most sophisticated, complex, and intellectual quartets.”

The concert will be preceded by a pre-talk at 2:00 P.M. Tickets may be purchased on-line at the Peck School of the Arts website or at the box office at (414) 229-4308. Additional program details may be found at the Friends of the Fine Arts Quartet website. Tickets are a bargain $10. Parking is available in the Zelazo Center lot, to the south of the building, and in the Union parking garage across Kenwood Boulevard. Parking is free on Sundays only.

The Fine Arts Quartet will next perform on May 3, 2015 at 3:00 P.M. at the Zelazo Center (2419 E. Kenwood Blvd) on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. The program will include Haydn‘s String Quartet Op 33, No 3, Saint-Saens‘ String Quartet No 2, op 153 and a masterwork by Robert Schumann – String Quartet, Op 41, no 1.

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