The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music performance: UW pianists and dancers team up; Chopin specialist Rafal Blechacz plays Bach’s “Italian Concerto”

March 7, 2010
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

First, a reminder, via a press release:

Collaboration between musicians and dancers is such a rarity today, we have forgotten the kindred nature of our arts.

“Pianists and dancers from UW-Madison will present two collaborative performances entitled “Making the Music Dance.” The concerts are the culmination of a series of movement workshops, led by graduate piano student Paola Savvidou.

“The purpose of the movement workshop and performance project is to develop kinesthetic awareness in pianists, embody the essence of the music, improve alignment at our instrument, and deepen our musical understanding and communication. You will hear piano performances with live dance improvisation; the overall effect being an aural, visual and kinesthetic interpretation of music by the great masters. (The poster for the event uses, to great effect, Henri Matisse’s famous painting “The Dance,” seen below).


Concerts will take place on:
 TONIGHT, Sunday, March 7, at 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall and 
TOMORROW NIGHT, Monday, March 8, at 8:30 p.m. in the Steinway Piano Gallery of Madison (6629 Mineral Pt. Road) on Madison’s far west side.

Pianists feature include: Sonya Clark, Amanda Horn, Doug Jurs, Jonathan Kuuskoski, Olivia Musat
Dancers: Lissa Erickson, Jamie Landry, Mary Patterson, Carlyn Pitterle and Olivia Templin.

Music to be heard and interpreted includes: Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI: 52, Adagio (Haydn), “Island of Joy” (Debussy), Sonata in F-sharp major, Op. 78, Adagio Cantabile-Allegro ma non troppo (Beethoven), Nocturne in C minor (Chopin), Sonata No. 2, Andante (Skryabin)

This project is supported by the UW-Madison Arts Institute and the Steinway Piano Gallery of Madison. 
For more information contact: Paola Savvidou,


Readers know of my like for Rafal Blechacz (below), the young Polish pianist who won the Chopin Prize in 2005 and who has out a new and excellent recording of the Chopin concertos.

In addition to the Chopin, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven that Blechacz has already recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, I happened to mention to a loyal reader of the blog — Akiko Ichikura of Tokyo — that on his next CD I would like to hear Blechacz perform the music of J.S. Bach.

As you might recall, Bach was one of the two musical gods that Chopin worshipped — the other was Mozart — and Chopin was fascinated by Bach,. He played a dozen or two preludes and fugues form The Tempered Clavier from memory, according to contemporary accounts.

And as he aged he grew even more and more fascinated with Bach’s mastery of counterpoint and used it as a guide in his own late-life turn to contrapuntal music (the Op. 51 nocturnes, the Sonata in B Minor, the F Minor Ballade and many others).

Anyway, Akiko found the following video and audio recordings I want to share of Blechancz performing Bach’s well-known “Italian Concerto” — a favorite of amateur and professional pianists that prefigures Mozart and classicism in its style.

(Indeed I think that in the music of Bach you find not only Baroque music but also harbingers of Classicism and Romanticism.

The first video is of movements 1 and 2, the gorgeous andante that Alfred Brendel has used separately as an encore:

And here is the third and final movement:

I also noticed for a recital at Duke University Blechacz also programmed the Partita No.1 in B-flat Major of Bach. Maybe we will get to hear Bach, perhaps even a Bach-Chopin recital mix, the same sort that Richard Goode performed at Carnegie Hall.

I would like that.

How about you?

And let me know what you think of Blechacz’ playing of Bach?

And what you think his next CD — after two Chopin CDs and another one with sonatas by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven — should be.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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