Presto, Change-o, just like that, Steinway Artist and University of Arizona Professor of Music John Milbauer came up with a new plan.
Originally slated for a solo piano performance at the Arizona Senior Academy at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Sept. 5), Milbauer—an internationally hailed performer who has played everything from recitals at the Vienna State Opera and concertos with the Boston Pops to gigs with Pink Martini and the Mills Brothers (to say nothing of the ASA)—thought he’d double the pleasure and double the fun at his upcoming concert here. He’ll still play solo—the eternally popular and bracing “Military Polonaise” of Chopin—but he’s bringing along Tucson Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Lauren Roth for two extraordinary and contrasting works: the Franck Sonata for violin and piano in A major and the Mozart Sonata for piano and violin in E minor, K. 304. They’ll play both works a few nights later at the U of A.
This is an ASA debut for Roth, whom Milbauer calls “a world-class player” and whose pedigree—degrees from the University of Washington and the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with famed violinist William Preucil; stints at Tanglewood and other prestigious festivals; work with respected orchestras; and an assistant professorship at U of A—support his contention. Certainly, it will take both players’ extraordinary virtuosity and musicianship for the big piece on the bill, the Franck sonata.
“While it is a staple of the violin repertoire, its great difficulty makes it daunting,” Milbauer aptly noted in an email. But it is also, as he said, “one of the most beautiful pieces of chamber music ever written.”
In scope. size and mood the Franck is a world apart from the Mozart Sonata on the program, “a favorite” of Milbauer’s notheless. “In only two movements, it is a haunting, spare work,” he wrote, pointing out that its minor key already makes it “quite rare” for Mozart. On top of that, he said, “it does contain some of Mozart’s most disarmingly touching phrases. It is a wonderful foil for the voluptuous Franck.”
Written by Susan Isaacs Nisbett, Academy Village Volunteer