The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Best Bet this week is Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society concerts Round 2

June 16, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

Friday night at 7 p.m. will see the second “house music” concert by early music experts and performers Trevor Stephenson and friends. This time it features trio sonatas (for violin, cello and harpsichord) by Handel, Haydn, Leclair and Corelli. The home seating (below in my photo)  is limited to about 35 (about 10 seats remain) and tickets cost $30. For information and reservations, visit or call (608) 238-6092. (The same program will be repeated on June 19 in Whitefish Bay and on Aug. 8, in Evanston, Ill. Check the website for details.)

I went to the first one, a recital of songs and four-hand fortepiano and piano duets) and had a wonderful time both musically and socially, which you can check  on in my blog review (use the search engine). I look forward to the second one just as much.

Still, after the stellar performances from the first weekend of three in June, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society’s second week of its 19th season has to get a MUST-HEAR recommendation.

You can check last week’s posting on Thursday and Friday (see below) for the Q&A I did with BDDS co-director and pianist Jeffrey Sykes.

And if you need more encouragement, here is the review I wrote of the Saturday program:

Now here is some more of what Sykes said pertaining to the upcoming weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) of programs.

Sykes said:” Week Two, we have something about which I’m very excited: The San Francisco Piano Trio featuring Axel Strauss on violin, Jean-Michel Fonteneau on cello, and yours truly on piano and my co-director Stephanie Jutt on flute.  For me, this trio is a very exciting new career development, and I’m proud to be able to have my friends and colleagues in Madison.”

There are two themed programs under the season umbrella theme of “Novel Obsessions”:

BRAVE NEW WORLD: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E-flat Major, op. 1 no. 1; Leon Kirchner’s Piano Trio no. 1; Ian Clarke’s “Orange Dawn” for flute and piano; and Robert Schumann’s Piano Trio in D minor, op.63. (A photo Kirchner is below.)

It will be performed at the Mineral Point Opera House (below) on Friday, June 18, at 7:30 p.m.; then at the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green on Sunday, June 20, at 2:30 p.m.

Comments Sykes on “Brave New World”: It takes courage for a composer to write music and send it out into the world.  It takes even more courage to write music that breaks with time-honored traditions and tries for something completely new.  This concert showcases the bravery of four composers, each of whom fearlessly explored new worlds of expression.

When Beethoven wrote his first published work, the Piano Trio in E-flat Major, op. 1, no. 1, he dove deep and swam hard. No composer before or since has had a greater compositional debut.  Casting aside the “domestic” sensibilities of the beloved trios of Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven brought to the form an unprecedented seriousness of purpose and finesse of compositional technique.  It was the beginning of a long and illustrious career that literally changed the world.

Leon Kirchner’s Piano Trio no. 1 was also a home run, and it remains to this day a classic work of American chamber music.  Written at a time when “serious” music was mostly written for the academy, Kirchner dared to write serious music that was accessible to the public. Dissonant and angular like much “modern” music, there is nonetheless a distinctly unpretentious, listenable and forthright quality about this work that makes it refreshing and new.

Ian Clarke (below) shows us a new day in “Orange Dawn” for flute and piano.

Finally, Schumann’s Piano Trio in D minor, his first foray into the genre, was his brave and completely successful attempt to create a work in the language of Romanticism on par with the classical masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.

THE SOUND AND THE FURY: Robert Schumann’s Violin Sonata in A minor, op. 105; Kristin Kuster’s “Perpetual Noon” for flute and piano; Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Trio in D minor, op. 120; Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” arranged for flute, violin, cello, and piano; and Johannes Brahms: Piano Trio in C Minor, op. 101.

That program will performed at The Playhouse in the Overture Center in Madison on Saturday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m.; and at the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green (below) on Sunday on June 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Comments Sykes: William Faulkner was no stranger to sound and fury.  In his dark novel, whose title alludes to Macbeth, family turmoil is given epic treatment. Each of this evening’s selections are brimming with turmoil of a kind, and the listener, willing or no, must travel the entire landscape of human emotion.

Schumann’s Violin Sonata in A minor begins in a quiet, mysterious, troubled mood and ends in full-blooded fury.  Sandwiched in between is a slow movement full of poetic reverie, an oasis in sound.

“Perpetual Noon” by Kristin Kuster (below) portrays the blazing white fury of noon that exhausts itself into stillness.

Fauré’s great Piano Trio in D minor—his last piece of chamber music—contrasts the most jagged, violent music with sections of great serenity.

Astor Piazzolla’s “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” was arranged brilliantly by José Bragato for flute, violin, cello and piano. These four tangos express the full spectrum of sounds (and furies) from Piazzolla’s cosmopolitan, sophisticated Latin capital.

Brahms’ final trio, the Piano Trio in C minor, concludes this program.  The most compact of all of Brahms’ chamber music works, this piece shows us that even Brahms, so well-known for tender melodies, can get down with the best of them and show his furious side.”

Here is a link to the BDDS homepage where you can find information about the program and performers as well as ticket prices and reservations:

Whatever concerts you go to, why not be a critic and leave a critical comment — positive or negative — to be posted?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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