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.