A Nod to German Composors

Frankly Music opens its season with works by Brahms, Haydn, and Reger.

By - Sep 23rd, 2016 09:57 am
Frank Almond, Jeewon Park, Edward Arron, and Michael Klotz.

Frank Almond, Jeewon Park, Edward Arron, and Michael Klotz.

Frankly Music opens a new season next Monday evening with a nod to three German composers of three major chamber works. Frank Almond welcomes frequent guest cellist Edward Arron, pianist Jeewon Park and a newcomer to Frankly Music – violist Michael Klotz. Frank will join violist and cellist for a string trio, violist and pianist for a piano trio and all will close with a masterful piano quartet.

Frankly Music takes on the challenge with each concert of producing great chamber performance by bringing together great players and finding the chemistry in a very short time. This is a particularly difficult challenge to undertake for an early masterwork by Johannes Brahms, his Piano Quartet in G, Op. 25. The debut of this quartet led debut violinist Joseph Hellmesberger to comment “This is Beethoven’s heir!” What makes this quartet attractive? Was it the intricate sonata-form first movement with no less than five themes introduced and woven throughout? Or the final movement featuring inventive Hungarian themes in a vivid rondo? The quartet is a tour-de-force for piano; including a effervescent theme at the pace of Flight of the Bumblebee in the final movement.

“Most of us have played it many times,” Almond observes. “When running through it several times, people sort of adjust almost without talking. There is always room for interpretation. That’s part of the fun of it. We all come with preconceived notions and preferences. Chemistry can play a big role. Sometimes it just settles on its own.”

The concert will open with a late Joseph Haydn trio. Haydn’s keyboard series of 45 trios began with courtly works for harpsichord produced for the court of Prince Esterházy. But by Trio No. 43 in C major, Hoboken XV:27 (1797), Haydn was producing dynamic pieces for fortepiano, intended to impress an even more rewarding source of support – London concert audiences.  Although the violin embellishes a challenging piano part in the opening movement, the third final movement features violin and piano in virtuosic dialogue. “This is a huge showcase for piano,” Almond adds.

The third major work on the program will be less familiar. Max Reger wrote a trio, String Trio No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77b (1904), that has been recognized as one of the great string trios even though Reger is little known. Writing at the turn of the 20th century, Reger presses beyond Wagner and Brahms to create works at the edge of tonality that can shimmer with intensity. This often melancholy work reminds me of Schoenberg‘s early work Transfigured Night.

“Even though he was incredibly prolific,” Almond comments, “He died young. Who knows where he may have gone next.” But the headlong rush into the more radical experiments by Schoenberg and others left Reger and others to be viewed as traditional. Indeed, Reger’s works often incorporate the complexities of Baroque fugue and counterpoint.

Frankly Music performs its fall concerts at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 914 E. Knapp St. in downtown Milwaukee. The concert begins at 7:00 p.m. Tickets ($35/ $15 for students) may be purchased at the door or online

The second of the season’s four concerts, Monday evening, November 21 will feature internationally recognized University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee guitarist, René Izquierdo, in chamber and solo works.

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