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Lunch with Brahms

The historic Monroe House at I and 21st Streets NW hosts a Friday Noon Concert Series that is free and open to the public, held by the Arts Club of Washington. Not unlike the Tuesday Concert Series at the Church of the Epiphany, it offers respite and a welcome oasis of calm for the elated, alternative lunch.

While the setting at the Monroe House is more intimate than the stop-by-if-you-wish atmosphere at the bigger, more anonymous church location, the concert takes into consideration the time constraints at lunch time. Their concerts are a most convenient half-hour long (or, rather, short). That's just the right musical quick fix, and on November 12th it came courtesy of Brahms's third violin sonata in D minor, played by the Oklahoma native Heather LeDoux-Green and Brussels-born pianist Danielle DeSwert.

The D-minor Brahms needs little in the way of explaining; the performance was pleasing on a dreary, rainy Friday. Mme. LeDoux-Green's tone was rich and vibrant, tempi were well chosen, and the audiably challenging piano part mastered as befit the performance as a whole. The musical dessert was a rare and cute delicacy: from a violin sonata to which Brahms, Schumann, and Albert Dietrich (a student of Brahms) each contributed one movement the two artists culled the Brahms-made Scherzo. The work had been a birthday present for Joseph Joachim (the famous violinist and Brahms's advisor on all things violinish), and the informal nature (Hausmusik among friends who could) showed. It's made to have fun... and fun it is, playing and hearing it alike.

Upcoming concerts in this worthwile series are Jyunghwa Jang (lyric soprano) with David Ballena (piano) on November 19, the Guarneri-directed Laurel Quartet on December 3, and "Flutar"—made up of flutist Joseph Cunliffe and (go figure) guitarist Giorgia Cavallaro on December 10. Then the Friday Noon Concert Series will hibernate until Friday, February 11, 2005. For more information, visit their Web site.

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