Fine Arts Quartet: Mozart’s Quintet in G Minor and Brahms’ Sextet No. 2

For me this was a much anticipated concert. I don’t think that I’ve seen the Fine Arts Quartet live since the last century. And I have very fond memories of taking their class at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Chamber Music in Performance. But that was way back in 1971. And on Sunday, they performed at UWM’s beautiful Helene Zelazo Center, a place that I haven’t been in since my son last played flute there in I think fall 2001. Well on with the show!

Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Gil Sharon, Niklas Schmidt

Well, this wasn’t a surprise, but exactly what I was hoping for. A very exciting afternoon of string pieces performed with brio and brilliance just as I remember.

The Mozart String Quintet in G Minor, K. 516 found the FAQ rounded out with violist Alejandro Duque from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. A perfect addition! The ensemble played just as would be expected from a group that’s been together for some time. Perfectly in sync, like old friends, through the solos, complementary passages, the counterpoints, and of course the plectrum underpinnings…just wow. Despite the pieces reputation as a sorrowful piece due to the melancholic themes and minor key…there was still a strong sense of hope and future in the playing. This is just a thing of beauty in composition and more so in this performance. There was just one miscue here in my opinion. The last two notes of the opening allegro were harsh and screechy…not what I was expecting at all for a ‘finale’.

And then after intermission, Brahms! Who doesn’t love Brahms…and Brahms left us two String Sextets to love…and here the FAQ gives us an exemplary recitation of String Sextet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 36. We again have Mr. Duque augmenting the FAQ plus cellist Madeleine Kabat, also on loan from the MSO. This piece was just riveting with a natural flow and drive as the instruments shared focus and movements throughout. I couldn’t help but keep time with my fingers or a nodding of the head through out. This was just an amazing piece and until you hear it, you can’t quite grasp the advantage of six string players in a sextet compared to the more traditional quartet. Just wow!!

There are two more opportunities to hear the Fines Arts Quartet in Milwaukee this month. The programs are different but I hazard to guess that the experience will be as refreshing. Here is my PSA announcing these opportunities: PSA: Two More Milwaukee Opportunities To See/Hear The Fine Arts Quartet (Free)

And just a bit of heads up: The Friends of the FAQ are planning on Milwaukee visits for the quartet in March and July of 2023. Keep your eyes open for the announcements.

PSA: Two More Milwaukee Opportunities To See/Hear The Fine Arts Quartet (Free)

I heard the Fine Arts Quartet this past Sunday and they were truly amazing. An article is in the works. But there are two more opportunities so see and hear them here in Milwaukee for free. Details below:

The Quartet will perform at 7:00 pm Saturday, July 16 at the UW-Milwaukee Zelazo Center. The Zelazo concerts are FREE with no ticketing or reservations required. The Zelazo Center is across from the main University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee campus on East Kenwood Ave, just a block east of Downer. It’s a very lovely and responsive concert space.

Saturday, July 16, 7:00 pm – Zelazo

– All Enescu program consisting mostly of his rare, unknown early works with guest pianists Fabio & Gisele Witkowski and Lizzie Burns, double bass

George Enescu – Prelude and Gavotte for 2 pianos, violin, and cello (1898)

George Enescu – Piano Quintet No. 1 in D major (1896)

—  Intermission —

George Enescu – “Aubade” String Trio (1899)

George Enescu – Pastorale, Menuet triste & Nocturne

– for violin and piano four-hands (1900)

George Enescu – Romanian Rhapsodie, Op. 11 (1901)

– arranged for piano quintet and bass by Jacques Enoch

The Quartet will perform at 7:00 pm, Monday, July 18 at the Jewish Community Center. This concert is FREE but reservations are required. Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center | 6255 N Santa Monica Blvd., Whitefish Bay, WI 53217 Follow this link to register:

Monday, July 18, 7:00 pm – Jewish Community Center

– All Mozart program with Alon Goldstein, piano and Lizzie Burns, double bass

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 19 in F Major, K. 459

– arranged for string quintet and piano by Ignaz Lachner

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503

– arranged for string quintet and piano by Ignaz Lachner

The Fine Arts Quartet – Ralph Evans, Efim Boico, Gil Sharon, and Niklas Schmidt will be joined by seven guest artists during the Festival.