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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

From Mozart to Radiohead at Anderson & Roe Concert

Plus: Andreas Delfs’ grand finale

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Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe first met each other as freshmen at Juilliard, both eventually earning their bachelor's and master's degrees there. Their friendship and similar musical outlooks resulted in the creation of the piano duo Anderson & Roe, which by now has traveled frequently, performing across the country. In 2008 they release their first CD, Reimagine, and indeed, "reimagine" is a word that truly describes their approach to the classics. Hosted by PianoArts of Wisconsin, Anderson & Roe bring their pianistic reimaginings to Milwaukee in a unique concert.

The program features three pieces by Wolfgang Mozart (1756-91). It starts with Duettino Concertante (arr. by Ferruccio Busoni), and concludes with Ragtime Alla Turca-likely a take on the famous Rondo-Finale of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major, which evokes the drums of a Turkish Janissary band. In between we have a world premiere: Anderson & Roe's Grand Scherzo, based on the Finale to Act One of Mozart's opera Così Fan Tutte.

"The scene is at once humorous, dramatic, romantic, scandalous, and the music could certainly be considered some of the greatest and most exciting that Mozart ever wrote," Roe explains. "Our 10-minute free arrangement captures the essence of the scene in a highly pianistic and Mozartian manner; we've reimagined the score as if Mozart had conceived it as a playful exchange between two pianists."

Other works include a piano transcription of The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971), the "Erbarme Dich" from J.S. Bach's (1685-1750) St. Matthew Passion, the lovely song-without-words Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 by Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) and even Paranoid Android by British alternative rock band Radiohead! This concert takes place at the Bradley Pavilion of the Marcus Center on June 18.

The name "Symphony of a Thousand" was not the idea of its composer, Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), but given the fact that there were some 1,003 performers at its premiere performance, the name has stayed with his Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major ever since. That 1910 Munich premiere was reviewed glowingly, easily becoming the biggest popular triumph of Mahler's life. The work is in two large parts-the first (Veni Creator Spiritus) is something of a medieval Catholic hymn in straightforward praise of the divinity. The second is a quasi-operatic setting of the last scene of Goethe's Faust-openly romantic, immensely moving and, given the massive orchestral and choral forces assembled, sonically powerful.

Andreas Delfs wraps up his 12 years at the helm of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with this magnificent work, leading the MSO, Symphony Chorus, Milwaukee Children's Choir, the Master Singers of Milwaukee and eight vocal soloists at Uihlein Hall on June 12 and 14.

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