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Frankly Music’s Terrific Season Opener

Yaniv Dinur fills in for Edo de Waart at MSO

Oct. 4, 2016
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I heard two excellent concerts last week. First was the season opener of the Frankly Music series at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. There was a noticeably smaller audience than normal due to the presidential debate that night. Violinist Frank Almond was joined by violist Michael Klotz, cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park.

 

Park’s clear, brilliant playing was highlighted in the Trio in C Major by Joseph Haydn, coaxing an easy and elegant ring of tone from the piano. Max Reger’s rather obscure String Trio No. 1, composed in 1904, was at times brooding with churning restlessness and at other times gently lyrical. The three terrific players were well matched, each with a distinctive, individual sound, but the resulting ensemble was artful and expressive. The Piano Quartet in G minor, Op. 25 is an early masterwork by Johannes Brahms; over the years Almond has shown a special affinity for the music of this composer. This richly shaped performance rose to glorious climax in the third movement and an exciting thrill ride in the finale.

 

The great Itzhak Perlman performed Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in a special, one-night engagement with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The slow second movement especially reminded me of what we have always loved in Perlman’s playing: A rich tone that is somehow both steely and warm and sensitive, intelligent phrasing. Perlman is one of the most beloved of artists, and even after a few curtain calls after the houselights came up, the audience kept up the applause for a few minutes more.

 

With less than 12 hours’ notice, MSO Assistant Conductor Yaniv Dinur replaced the ill and indisposed Edo de Waart on the podium. Dinur is the best assistant conductor that the MSO has had in my memory, and he gave a thoroughly solid account of Symphony No. 3 by Brahms with grace and power. Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, also heard the weekend before, was fun and fluent, with blazing solos from horn players Matthew Anin and Darcy Hamlin and violinist Frank Almond. The trumpets, trombones and tuba turned up the heat with some electrifying climaxes.

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