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Monday, Oct. 8, 2012

Frankly Music Presents Musicians of the MSO

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Frankly Music, Milwaukee’s top-level chamber music series, begins its new season with a program that features musicians of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO).

The ensemble’s artistic director (and MSO concertmaster), Frank Almond, will be joined by Todd Levy, Jeannie Yu, Ilana Setapen, Wei-Ting Kuo and Susan Babini. Babini, principal cellist for the MSO, will be making her first Milwaukee chamber music appearance. The program will feature the talents of Levy, principal clarinetist for the MSO, in works by Johannes Brahms (Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, Op. 115), Béla Bartók (Contrasts for violin, clarinet and piano) and Mieczyslaw Weinberg (Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 28).

Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet is a beloved work of chamber musicians, thought by many to be the best example of the medium. The playing of clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld inspired Brahms to come out of retirement and compose his Clarinet Quintet in 1891. More than 30 minutes long, the Quintet is Brahms’ largest chamber work. Despite the work being written late in Brahms’ life, it still contains much of what audiences love about the composer’s music. “It was one of the last pieces he wrote, but Brahms was still at the height of his powers,” Almond says.

Polish-Soviet composer Weinberg composed his Clarinet Sonata in 1945. The music of this unjustly neglected composer bears resemblance to the works of his famous friend, Dmitri Shostakovich. The program also includes Contrasts, Bartók’s 1938 masterpiece. The work is a virtuosic tour de force for all members of the trio and, according to Almond, “a lot of fun to play.” Performances take place 7 p.m. Oct. 15-16 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music.