Francesca Anderegg and Brent Funderburk Dame Myra Hess Concert Review - Ravel, Maya and Bártok in Vibrant Musical Colors

Francesca Anderegg, violinist, shared the secret of her program selection for the May 29, 2013 Dame Myra Hess Concert with WFMT Simulcast, held at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center.  Anderegg says, “All the pieces on today’s program were fun to play!”


That program included:  Maurice Ravel’s “Violin Sonata No. 2”; Reinaldo Moya’s “Imagined Archipelagos”, and Béla Bartók’s “Rhapsody No. 1”. 


Anderegg elaborates, “The Ravel, Moya and Bartók share a colorful harmonic language. Each piece has a specific, strong, easily identifiable character.  The Ravel Sonata has the “Blues” movement, the Moya has a peaceful, lyrical atmosphere, and of course the Bártok is based on Hungarian folk tunes, so you hear the exciting dance music that bubbles throughout the last movement.  As a performer, there’s nothing more rewarding than to immerse yourself in those characters and to bring them to life.”


Funderburk adds, “The hall was such a beautiful space with great acoustics, and that helps us as performers convey the musicality of each piece.  With Ravel, the first movement is very lush— almost orchestral in the writing.  It is the most impressionistic of the three movements and it’s all about color.  The second movement, “Blues”, is so interesting: it shows Ravel’s interpretation of an American style, which during his time wasn’t understood very well.  In the last movement, the violin part is an engine that constantly moves forward, and the piano part comments on all this activity through accents and sparkling chords.”


The second piece has particular meaning for Anderegg, as she is married to the composer Reinaldo Moya.   She jokes, “I love being able to give my opinion before the ink is dry on the page!”


On a more serious note, Anderegg explains, “I’ve learned quite a bit from playing this piece.  In Reinaldo’s music, the rhythm is quite complex, and it produces an effect of ‘floating tunes’, where you hear melodies drifting in and out against a beautifully textured background.  I love this style…Reinaldo grew up as a violinist, so he really knows how to write music for the instrument.  His music can be very difficult to play, especially for the pianist, who often plays two or three rhythms simultaneously.  I’m lucky to play with Brent Funderburk, who embraced this challenge and really did a fantastic job.”


Funderburk concurs, “It’s difficult to put your finger on Moya’s piece. The textures are so dense, with lots going on rhythmically.  But we don’t want people to hear those technical aspects, but rather just the texture and feel.  In rehearsal we talked about swimming through the music.”


Indeed, the Moya piece played out as a reverie.  When Bártok followed, we were jolted by its gypsy folk styles and contrasting tempo from Moya’s “Imagined Archipelagos”.  


Funderburk comments about the Bártok Rhapsody, “So often in classical music we are about refinement and trying to get it perfect.  In this Rhapsody, there is so much freedom of how you can express it.  As a duo it is never the same twice.  The violinist can take liberties, and the pianist always has to be listening and responding.  You are so engaged the whole time and it is so much fun to play.”


Indeed—“...the pianist only has to be listening”. 


Clearly there was so much more at work in this concert.   We, the audience, were so lucky that Anderegg and Funderburk met at Julliard and have been collaborating since. 


Much as we were excited by their performance, reportedly they were too.  Anderegg comments, “The Chicago Cultural Center is quite an experience!  I love the fact that the concert is free and open to the public, right in the middle of the downtown rush of Chicago.  It’s nice that the concert series has a very loyal following, and some people have been attending these concerts for many years.  It’s great to perform for this community of music lovers. I also love the sense of history—playing in this beautiful hall with the sparkling Tiffany mosaics and the glass dome.”


The duo made a debut album released last summer.  Here is their performance of a piece entitled Triptych by George Perle



Following find a video of Francesca Anderegg performing Schnyder Violin Concerto.





And for more Funderburk performances see and hear him accompany mezzo-soprano Naomi O’Connell at the Steans Music Institute at the Ravinia Festival in 2010.




The Dame Myra Hess Concert Series will continue every Wednesday at 12:15 pm to 1:00 pm until the week of Christmas when the Cultural Center is closed.


Admission is free but donations are welcomed—from those in the live audience and WFMT listeners alike. 


Photo Credits:


Anderegg photos:  Lisa-Marie Mazzucco


Funderburk photo:  Jared Slater


Reinaldo Moya photo:  Arthur Moeller



Preston Bradley Hall photos:  Amy Munice

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