The Well-Tempered Ear

The Ear picks Classical Music Best Bets for spring semester – Part 1 of 2 | January 20, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

“What concerts are you going to?”

It’s a question I often get asked by friends who want to use my choices as a guide to their own concert-going.

As always, there is a lot – maybe even too much except for the most devoted concert-goers who will have forgo many other events to hear so much classical music. But even such fanatics will bump up against competing events, as I have noted (see, for example, Jan. 22, March 13 and April 23). So my choices reflect my own tastes and biases or preferences. (I love piano music and chamber music above all, although I attend many other events.) But I have also tried to list events that will appeal to listeners with other preferences — symphonies, opera, vocal music, brass music, woodwind music.

Plus, some new and unexpected events are sure to pop up. (I haven’t received any word from Edgewood College, the Friday Noon Musicales at the First Unitarian Society and some smaller groups.) And some of the concerts I want to attend I won’t be able to go to, especially in March, which is a busy month with the UW Spring Break.

Let there be no doubt: Classical music fans are lucky indeed to have such a wealth of offering for a city of 300,000 in a county of 350,000. It’s quite something compared to Chicago or New York where the audience base is in the many millions

But for what it is worth at the moment, here in two parts — to run today and tomorrow — is my MUST-HEAR list of events (more details about programs, tickets, times and locations can be found at the links included at the end of each post today and tomorrow) coming up for the spring semester, which is the second half of the current season:

This Friday. Jan. 22, at 8 p.m.: Emerson String Quartet (below) at the Wisconsin Union Theater in a sure-fire program of Ives (Quartet No. 1), Dvorak (Op. 51) and Beethoven (Op. 127).

Also this Friday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m., but in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater: The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, under Andrew Sewell, performs with the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet (below). The program includes Bacewicz’s Concerto for String Orchestra, Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz and Alberto Ginastera’s “Concert Variations.”

Jan. 23: Program with UW trumpet player John Aley performs with UW pianist Martha Fischer has been POSTPONED due to illness.

Jan. 28-31 in Overture Center’s Playhouse: The Madison Opera’s production of Benjamin Britten’s version of Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” You’ll hear lots of local talent including Julia Faulkner, Alistair Sewell and Jennifer DeMain in title roles. The conductor is John DeMain.

Feb. 5, 6 and 7: Madison Symphony Orchestra, with John DeMain conducting and husband-and-wife violinist Pinchas Zukerman, cellist Amanda Forsyth (below right) and MSO organist Samuel Hutchison.   The program includes Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” for cello and orchestra, “The Poet and the Muse” and Symphony No. 3 “Organ” by Saint-Saens.

Feb. 6: “Live From the MET in HD”: Superstar tenor, now baritone, Placido Domingo in Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra.”

Feb. 13: UW tenor James Doing in recital with pianist Martha Fischer.

Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. in Mills Hall: The UW Chamber Orchestra gives a free performance of the “Chamber Symphony No. 2” by Arnold Schoenberg; “Chamber Symphony,” Op. 73a by Shostakovich; Concerto for French Horn, No. 3, K. 447 by Mozart; and “Symphony No. 103 (Drum-roll)” by Haydn.

Feb. 18: Pro Arte String Quartet. An all-classics Classical program of Haydn’s Quartet in C Major, Op. 74, No. 1; Mozart’s Quartet in D minor, K. 421; and Beethoven’s Quartet in G Major, Op. 18, No. 2. For novices or connoisseurs, chamber music just doesn’t get better.

Feb. 20 and 21: Oakwood Chamber Players (below) perform an unusual program of rarely heard works: Dohnanyi’s Trio, Vincent D’Indy’s Sarabande and Minuet, John Williams’ “Air and Simple Gifts’ and Beethoven’s “Two Eyeglasses Obbligato.”

Feb. 20: UW Wingra Woodwind Quintet.

Feb. 26-28: Madison Symphony Orchestra with pianist Stephen Hough (below right) in Tchaikovsky’s famed but stirring, tuneful and passionate warhorse, the Piano Concerto No.1 in B-Flat Minor.

If Mozart’s piano concerto in C Major can be called “Elvira Madigan” after the art house film that used it as a score, then The Ear thinks the Tchaikovsky can be a called the Van Cliburn Concerto after the American pianist who rode it to victory over the Soviets in 1958 and used it to make the first classical album that went gold and sold over 1 million copies.

Rounding out the program is a contemporary Estonian work, Heino Eller’s “Dawn,” and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1. The concert also features Estonian guest conductor Anu Tali, (below right) who was terrific last time she was here.

Feb. 18: UW Pro Arte String Quartet.

March 5: UW cellist Parry Karp with pianist Eli Kalman.

March 6: UW’s Wisconsin Brass Quintet.

March 9: UW faculty recital by violinist Suzanne Beia who is second violin in the Pro Arte Quartet, concertmaster for the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and assistant concertmaster for the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

March 11: Eroica Trio (below right) at the Wisconsin Union Theater in a terrific program of Dvorak’s “Dumky” Trio, Beethoven’s Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3, and Joan Tower’s Trio for Daniel (2004).

March 12: UW pianist Christopher Taylor in a recital playing Chopin (Sonata No. 3 in B Minor) and other composers.

March 12: Harpsichordist Trevor Stephenson of the Madison Bach Musicians performs Bach, Handel and Scarlatti at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

March 13: UW undergraduate and graduate students perform Chopin’s complete mazurkas to mark Chopin 200th birthday.

March 13 at 8 p.m.: The Wisconsin Union Theater presents the Eroica Trio with the UW Chamber Orchestra, performing the Triple Concerto by Beethoven under the baton of James Smith. The program also includes “The Good-Humored Ladies” by Domenico Scarlatti (arr. Tommasini) and Symphony No. 3 (“The Camp Meeting”) by Ives. (Tickets are free for those who attend the Eroica’s concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater two days earlier.)

March 14: Madison’s Ancora String Quartet on “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.”

March 19, 20 and 21: Madison Symphony Orchestra under guest director German Patrick Strub (below right), who was so outstanding with the UW Symphony Orchestra last season, returns with the Madison debut of pianist Jonathan Biss (below left),  an up-and-coming star who has received critical raves for his musicality. The program includes Weber’s Overture to “Oberon,” Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat Major, K. 271, “Jeunehomme” and Brahms’ Serenade No. 1.

March 24: UW Symphony Orchestra will stretch itself in Mahler’s titanic Symphony No. 6 “Tragic.” Another free event not to be missed.

March 26 at 8 p.m. in Capitol Theater: Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under Andrew Sewell with trumpeter Ryan Anthony (below). The program includes Albinoni’s “Concerto St. Marc,” Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony Op. 110a transcribed by the composer from his famous String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor.

March 27: “Live From the MET in HD”: Ambroise Thomas’ rarely staged “Hamlet” with Natalie Dessay.

March 28: Madison Community Orchestra at MATC’s Mitby Thyeater.

April 2: J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion,” with the Wisconsin Chamber Choir and a period-instrument orchestra, on Good Friday at 8 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society of  Madison.


Tomorrow: Part 2 — From Spring break to Summer

Posted in Classical music

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