The Well-Tempered Ear

Hearing the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with Edo de Waart on public radio sharpens The Ear’s appetite to hear them live in Madison on Oct. 9

September 26, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

Now I’m looking forward to Friday, Oct. 9, even more.

That’s when the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra performs at the Wisconsin Union Theater (at 8 p.m.) in a concert of Mozart’s Overture to “Don Giovanni,” Brahms’ rarely played but beautiful Double Concerto for Violin and Cello and Beethoven’s magnificent Seventh Symphony. (Tickets are $18, $40 and $45 with $10 for UW students. Call 262-2201. Here a link to WUT: )

The orchestra and soloist will be playing under the baton of the orchestra’s new music director Edo de Waart (below right), a famous and world-class Dutch-born conductor who also happens now to live in Middleton even while he fulfills his duties in Milwaukee, in Hong King (where is music director of the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra) and various guest stints around the globe.


What makes me so excited was broadcast last Sunday after (Sept. 20) when Wisconsin Public Radio broadcast a performance of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. It has done so all summer long, but the conductor has been outgoing maestro Andreas Delfs.

This time is was de Waart who led the orchestra through John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances” from “Nixon in China,” a clarinet work by Von Weber and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World.”

That last work especially is a favorite of mine.

But this performance unstopped my ears and made me hear it anew.

Boy, they sounded good!

The performance had an edgy drive and energy.

It possessed sharp rhythms and solid beats as well as songful lyricism.

The brass and percussion were upfront, and the strings were smooth — not mushy but direct and even forceful.

And the counterplay of different parts was clear.

In short, at least judging form that performance – and from de Waart’s guest stint with the Madison Symphony Orchestra a couple of season ago  — de Waart is going to offer  an exciting experience, a terrific reimagining of repertoire staples as well as new works.

You can check him out again this Sunday (Sept. 27) at 2 p.m. (following the UW Pro Arte Quartet on “Sunday Live form the Chazen”) when the Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM in the Madison area) will wrap up its summer broadcasts of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with de Waart conducting pianist Sa Chen in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37, and soprano Heidi Stober in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4.

Officially, “The de Waart Era” in Milwaukee beings tonight (Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m.) and tomorrow (Sunday, Sept. 27, at 2:30 p.m.) when de Waart leads the group in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. If you’re interested, here are links to stories about him and to those concerts and the full season:

By the way, both the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra goes by the acronym MSO.

I wonder: Should they be called in shorthand MaSO and Miso, for Madison and Milwaukee respectively?

Anybody else out there have an opinion about deWaart?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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