Last month we invited guest blogger Mandy Meisner to interview Principal Flute Adam Kuenzel in advance of his performance of a Bach Flute Partita at the January 22 Chamber Music in the Target Atrium concert. We’re delighted that Mandy has written us this follow-up reflection on the performance.
Of all the days of the week, Sunday remains one of my favorite.
Untethered by the expectations of a Monday, the drudgery of a Wednesday, or the excitement of a Friday, it delivers the stillness and comfort that only a cup of coffee and the crinkling turn of the newspaper can offer. These lazy mornings will often seep into the rest of the day, washing away the week so I can recharge and meet the expectant Monday once again.
On Sunday, January 22, I went to a Minnesota Orchestra chamber music concert. Rather than taking designated seats in the large auditorium, we file in first-come, first-served to the Target Atrium—the “Glass Box” right off the main lobby. We come in our cozy sweaters and heavy tights, sports coats and brown loafers, and watch a subdued city go about its business in the grey afternoon, unperturbed by us on the other side of the pane.
The concert starts out as chamber music on a Sunday afternoon should—with a leisurely chat. Gone are the imposing icons atop a grand stage; instead they are regular people sharing juicy tidbits about composers and exotic locals and the evolution of instruments. The music itself now feels familiar, like a forgotten story you suddenly remembered rather than the novel that caused such intimidation you dare not open it.
All four members of the flute section take turns playing Bach sonatas and a partita. The Bach sonatas open with the politeness of a well-structured vintage dress. This restrained introduction is brushed away to reveal the scars beneath with the hand of a minor key. The combination of flute, cello and harpsichord feels dear. Their distinct voices weave in and out and over one another with elegant subtlety and explicit purpose.
When Adam Kuenzel plays the Partita in A minor on a wooden flute, I am fearful for him. He stands alone before us all. The wood lends a softer sound, so we lean in to hear him speak in long lush phrases through brilliant and seemingly impossible arcs of technique and nuance. The Sarabande sounds like fog in the marshes, blurry and strange, enticing you to explore with a haunting promise. We sit in awe at his moxie and skill. I am so close that I can see the music coming through the slightest bobs and sways, leaving his patterns in the air.
The concert ends with the Mendelssohn String Quintet No. 2. I expect to be delighted, and I am. After the lone flute, the quintet’s big sound is startling. The Adagio fills the space with silken ribbons, as wide as your arms can stretch, where they float and flutter to drape from the ceiling and glass walls. I can see the music in sweeps of pale blues and strong violets, later turning into reds and oranges in the last movement. The music adorns us all as the grey sky turns black outside.
When it ends, we clap and smile, sigh and chatter, as we put on our coats to meet the winter night. But we can still feel the music in our bones. It seeps into us, washing away the week so we can recharge and meet the expectant Monday once again.
It was everything a Sunday should be.