Frankly Music Delivers Again
We are so accustomed to
Frank Almond’s musical leadership in our community that it’s possible to take
it for granted. Beyond his sophisticated playing he is an eloquent speaker
about classical music, and has an ability to connect with an audience with
substantial content, remaining interesting and dryly witty. Due to travel I
missed a concert this spring when Almond played music associated with the
remarkable violin he plays, the ex-Lipinski Stradivarius, so I was glad for the
opportunity to hear Tartini’s “Devil’s Trill” sonata. Tartini was the first
known owner of the Strad Almond plays. One could not resist trying to imagine
what this surprisingly chromatic sonata sounded like on this violin in 1750.
Almond delivered it with style, fiery assertion and blazing bravura.
Also for violin and
piano were four pieces from Ned Rorem’s Day
Music and Night Music,
20th-century gems played with lively elegance. Pianist Michael Mizrahi, who
recently joined the faculty at Lawrence University, was impressive in Rorem’s
Joseph Johnson joined the ensemble for two piano trios: Mendelssohn’s Trio No. 1, and Dvorák’s “Dumky” Trio. The combination of Johnson and Almond has grown to a high artistic level, each bringing out the best in one another. The Mendelssohn trio was the best chamber music performance I’ve heard anywhere this season, lyrical and spirited, with nearly ideal balance. In this concert Mizrahi made the statement that a top-flight pianist has arrived in our region. We’re glad to have him.