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Violinist Jennifer Frautschi, who aced Jean Sibelius' Violin Concerto in two concerts over the previous weekend with the full Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, noted it's a rare treat for her to get to stick around a town for a few extra days to play chamber music.

It was a rare treat, too, for the audience Tuesday night in the Great Hall of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, where Frautschi, the orchestra's 2017-2018 Richard Sheppard Arnold Artist of Distinction, played some superb solo violin music and, with five orchestra members, an even more scintillating sextet.

To open the orchestra's 2017-2018 River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, Frautschi, with orchestra members Geoffrey Robson, violin; Ryan Mooney and Katherine Reynolds, viola; and David Gerstein and Ethan Young, cello, knocked the nearly full house flat in Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence.

Already brisk tempos sped up beyond all belief to end the first and fourth movements, causing listeners to break into spontaneous applause after the first and lifting them out of their seats at the finale.

Frautschi and her "band mates" showed fine communication, right down to the common body language, and with all that sawing of bows going on, it's a wonder the stage wasn't knee-deep in sawdust.

Chamber music played at this level must be as much fun to watch as it is to listen to, and Frautschi led the way there as well; a faint smile crossed her lips on occasion, and the other musicians mostly looked at least like they were having a good time.

Frautschi warmed up for the sextet with a wonderfully nuanced performance of the "Chaconne" from J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2 -- probably, next to Niccolo Paganini's 24th Caprice, the best known piece for solo violin in the catalog.

To open the concert, the Etesian Winds -- orchestra members Diane McVinney, flute; Beth Wheeler, oboe; Kelly Johnson, clarinet; Susan Leon, bassoon; and David Renfro, horn -- gave fine performances of Winter Music for Woodwind Quintet by ASO Composer of the Year Adam Schoenberg and, sweetly, an arrangement by Valerie Coleman of the spiritual Steal Away.

Metro on 10/04/2017

Print Headline: 'Distinction' violinist soars solo, in sextet

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