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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fine Arts Quartet’s “Summer Evenings of Music”

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Paris-born pianist Miklos Schön has steadily been collecting prizes in chamber music and solo piano at several international competitions and has appeared at many music festivals and concerts in Europe, Asia and the United States. He founded the Weber Trio in 1994 and is currently artistic director of France's Festival aux Chandelles. The Fine Arts Quartet, artists-in-residence at UW-Milwaukee's Peck School of the Arts, welcome Schön to Milwaukee to wrap up their four-part "Summer Evenings of Music" concert series.

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) composed his six string quartets of Op. 76-a genre of which he can deservedly be called the inventor-during 1796-1797, after his second triumphal London visit and upon arriving back in Vienna, this time to remain for the rest of his life. The quartet performs Haydn's Sunrise Quartet, No. 4 of the Op. 76 series. These six quartets elicited strong praise from contemporary music historian Charles Burney, who wrote upon hearing them that he had "never received more pleasure from instrumental music: They are full of invention, fire, good taste and new effects."

By the time of Czech composer Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904), the string quartet was thoroughly entrenched and had spawned new genres such as the piano quintet-essentially, the traditional two violins, cello and viola with added piano. A masterpiece of Romantic chamber music is Dvorák's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 (1887). Schön joins the quartet in this work, one that clearly bears its composer's artistic stamp: warmth, Bohemian folk flavoring and gifted melodiousness.

Schön also performs some solo piano works by French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918), a creative genius who quietly revolutionized mid-century music. His Pour le Piano (1901) is a three-part suite displaying Satie-like intimacy, while L'isle Joyeuse (1904) is a highly modified, single-movement sonata possessing great rhythmic drive and orchestral undertones.

This concert takes place at UWM's Helene Zelazo Center on June 28.

It's just not summer without an outdoor orchestra concert, and the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Alexander Platt serves one up, with such light and rousing classics as Bernstein's Candide Overture and excerpts from West Side Story; Sousa's The Glass Blowers Overture, Hands Across the Sea and the immortal Stars and Stripes Forever; Berlioz' Rakoczy March; a suite from Richard Rodgers' Carousel and Tchaikovsky's adorably bombastic 1812 Overture. This concert takes place at the Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center on June 26.

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