Part French, part Danish concert in Taos - Albuquerque Journal

Part French, part Danish concert in Taos

Pianist Robert McDonald returns to Taos for concerts next weekend.
Pianist Robert McDonald returns to Taos for concerts next weekend.

Part French and part Danish is the best way to describe Taos Chamber Music Group’s concert at the Harwood Museum of Art next weekend.

Pianist Robert McDonald and Taos Chamber Music Group’s flutist and artistic director Nancy Laupheimer put their heads together to come up with a program that explores music by some of the best known composers from France and Denmark.

“Bob wanted to do (Gabriel) Fauré’s Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120,” explained Laupheimer. “It was Fauré’s only piano trio. He wrote it toward the latter part of his life when he wasn’t in good health and mostly deaf. It has heart-wrenching, beautiful melodies.”

McDonald also suggested Carl Nielsen’s Three Piano Pieces, Op. 59. Composed in 1928, it was Nielsen’s last major work for the piano. Nielsen (1865-1931), who was born on the Danish island of Funen, also was a conductor and violinist. He is known for his six symphonies, wind quintet and concertos for violin, flute and clarinet.

On Laupheimer’s concert wish list was programming Maurice Ravel’s Violin Sonata #1 in A minor, which will be performed by LP How. “This Ravel work doesn’t get heard that often,” Laupheimer added. “It’s actually one of his early works, even though it was published posthumously. Part of what we do at Taos Chamber Music Group is present pieces that are not frequently performed.”

Although early-19th-century composer Friedrich Kuhlau was born in Germany, he emigrated to Denmark during Napoleon’s invasion of Hamburg. Kuhlau was a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera who also wrote quite a few works for flute.

“He’s well-known in the flute world and often called the Beethoven of the flute,” said Laupheimer. “Kuhlau had an idiomatic way of writing for the flute. His works are very virtuosic. He wrote flute duets, flute trios and flute quartets. The piece we’re playing is for flute, cello and piano. This is the only one he wrote for those specific three instruments. There’s also a version of the piece for two flutes and a piano.”

“French Danish” marks the fourth Taos Chamber concert featuring McDonald, who is well-known to Taos audiences for his appearances with the Taos School of Music.

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