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A classical concert to please everyone

Kimberly Nicoletti
summit daily news

Is it possible to line up an entire concert full of classical music that pleases everyone?

Violinist Brian Hanly thinks so; he and pianist Arthur Houle have created Sunday’s “From Gershwin to Brahms and Back: Music to Please Everyone” concert, which begins and ends with selections of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” and includes Mozart’s Sonata No. 32 in B flat Major, Johannes Brahms’ Sonata No. 2 in A Major and his Hungarian Dance No. 2, as well as “Danse Espagnole” by Erique Granados.

“All the works that we’re playing have immediate audience appeal, and that’s not always the case with classical (concerts),” Hanly said. “(People) go out to be entertained. If one picks carefully with classical music, you can do that.”

However, when Houle first heard Brahms’ No. 2, he found it “the most, perhaps, esoteric and most difficult to fully embrace,” he said. During his long career as a musician – performing extensively with the New England-based Copley Chamber Players and the Langrosie Trio and earning critical acclaim with his Carnegie Recital Hall debut – he had performed Brahms’ No. 1 and 3 Sonatas, but never the second – “a strange hole in my (career as a musician),” he said.

“It takes awhile for (Brahms) to grow on you,” Houle said. “As I tell my students, he’s not an instant one-hit wonder.”

While Hanly doesn’t share the same experience and says the Brahms piece is not only accessible but also sunny and happy, Houle hopes the “audience will be more mature than I was,” Houle said.

“Once I got into it and started rehearsing with Brian it was phenomenal,” he said.

Hanly is sharing some of his favorite compositions, as well as pieces audiences love. He chose Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance” and Sonata No. 2 to highlight the composers’ different sides; the dance portrays a gypsy side, full of exciting dance-like rhythms, which contrasts the “more laid-back, sunny moods that you get in the sonata,” he said.

Both musicians seem to inspire each other; Hanly, a part-time Summit County resident, moved to Grand Junction (where Houle lives) to be close to his grandchildren. He heard Houle perform locally and introduced himself.

“He’s a virtuoso pianist,” Hanly said.

Houle was impressed with Hanly as well.

“He’s quite the amazing violinist,” Houle said. “He’s had quite the stupendous career.”

Hanly is professor emeritus of violin and chamber orchestra at University of Wyoming and has taught at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and the Peabody Prep in Baltimore. He has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Australia.

“These two artistic performers, outstanding on their own merits, are perfectly paired in the concert,” said Suzanne Lanuza, member of the concert series. “The elegance of music created for violin and piano emphasizes the finest qualities of each intrument and is a perfect showcase for the remarkable talent of both performers.”

“We try to offer a variety so there’s something for everyone,” Houle said.

Lanuza promises the seventh, and final, concert of the Lord of the Mountain series to be a crowd pleaser. The 2011-2012 Concert Series begins Oct. 9.


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