This preview provided by Chamber Music Raleigh.

On November 1, Chamber Music Raleigh (formerly The Raleigh Chamber Music Guild) and the North Carolina Museum of Art are celebrating the first concert of their fifteen-year partnership with a blockbuster concert by Mallarmé Chamber Players to go with a blockbuster special exhibition. M. C. Escher and J. S. Bach shared a passion for structure and mathematical symbolism, puzzles and perceptual enigmas across a gap of two centuries.

Escher’s life work centered on the creation of meticulously crafted prints of fascinating symmetries, metamorphoses and optical illusions. The integration of these qualities with his love of nature and sense of whimsy has catapulted him into the ranks of the world’s best-loved artists. Working in isolation, Escher doggedly pursued his artistic vision, unconcerned with popular appeal or financial remuneration.

Johann Sebastian Bach inhabited a very different world from Escher’s. Employed by aristocrats and civic government to grind out hundreds of compositions on demand in all genres (except opera), church cantatas, organ works, concertos, dance suites and sonatas, he never abandoned his personal muse. Bach’s music is replete with tone painting, musical symbolism and complex structures that enhanced his fame but not always his popularity. Late in life, Bach embarked on several massive projects that epitomized and perfected his personal musical legacy: The Art of the Fugue, The Goldberg Variations, Mass in B Minor, and The Musical Offering.

Bach composed The Musical Offering for King Frederick II of Prussia, an avid flutist and composer. During Bach’s visit to the court where his second son, C. P. E. Bach was employed, the king composed a theme upon which Bach was to improvise a ricercar (fugue). Not happy with the results, Bach returned home and composed a varied set of compositions all based on the king’s theme, including his original three-part ricercar, a six-part ricercar, a trio sonata and ten puzzle canons. These last Bach notated as short, single-line tunes; the performer would have to figure out the device that would turn them into full-fledged pieces. Bach sent the Musical Offering to King Frederick, who apparently was not impressed. He never even acknowledged the gift with its obsequious and flowery dedication.

Posterity has judged otherwise. For this opening Sights and Sounds on Sundays concert, the Mallarmé Chamber Players will perform the entire Musical Offering with remarks on how the canons in particular relate to Escher’s prints. The concert will take place at the museum’s newly renovated auditorium at 3:00. Docents from the NCMA will conduct tours of the Escher exhibit before the concert at 1:45.

The Mallarmé ensemble fearures Rebecca Troxler (flute), Elizabeth Field (baroque violin), Stephanie Vial (baroque cello), Elaine Funaro (harpsichord) and Suzanne Rousso (baroque viola).

Visitors can sign up for the associated docent tour at