Milwaukee’s Extraordinary Chamber Music Series
Frankly Music 10th season opened with Mozart and more
The general aesthetic approach of the concerts has remained constant: informal lecture followed by performances. It seems there was a time when public lectures for adult audiences were more commonly encountered. Almond’s casual, insightful and often witty remarks about the music to be performed are a pleasure in themselves, loosely in the spirit of the Chautauqua tradition. Almond has evolved to become a most entertaining and articulate speaker on classical music, which is not at all an easy feat, with a style that avoids the pitfalls of elitism, pandering or boring nerdiness.
Two familiar guests joined Almond: violist Toby Appel and cellist Edward Arron. The seldom encountered 1925 Duo for Violin and Cello by Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) features rich techniques and textures that only a composer who is himself a string player could have conjured. The music is an attractive mix of folk-like elements, lyric austerity, intensity and drama, borrowing from various international styles. It reminds one that the 1920s were a time in the high arts when modernism was blossoming and a whole new world of ideas was gaining traction.
Two Mozart works were heard. Appel and Almond performed the Duo in G Major, especially persuasive in the lovely second movement. The ideals of chamber music—essentially an intimate musical conversation between players—were certainly in play in Mozart’s masterful Divertimento in E-flat Major for string trio, which was played on the first Frankly Music concert ten years ago. Chamber music does not get better than this.