The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: Chamber music in small, medium and large combinations highlights a very busy week

March 2, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

This is a busy week for music as we work toward the Spring Break for the University of Wisconsin.

You’ll find a lot of chamber music in all kinds of combinations and permutations — small, medium and large, solos and collaborations — as well as orchestral music and even some opera.

Two standouts are a performance by Con Vivo! of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s performance with the Time for Three String Trio, of the “4-3” concerto by the accessible contemporary American composer Jennifer Higdon (below), who last year won the Pulitzer Prize for her violin concerto. (The violin concerto was commissioned by Hilary Hahn, who two weeks ago performed a great recital at the Wisconsin Union Theater. Hahn toured with the concerto, recorded it and turned it into a bestseller.)


From 1 to 3 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Hot +Dish Trio (see next item) will give a free and public master class.

At 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the Hot Dish Trio will perform as part of the UW’s Guest Artist Series. The program includes “Hillandale Waltzes” by Victor Babin; “Sonata in D minor,” Op. 108 by Brahms; “Suite,” Op. 157b by Milhaud; and “Contrasts” by Bartok.

Members of the trio are violinist Leslie Shank, clarinetist Karrin Meffert-Nelson and pianist Susan Billmeyer.

Shank is assistant concertmaster of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and concertmaster of the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado. Meffert-Nelson is a member of the faculty at the University of Minnesota, principal clarinetist with Minnesota Sinfonia and clarinetist with the Halama Wind Octet. Billmeyer appears regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra and performed on the orchestra’s 2010 European tour.

Admission is free and open to the public.


This week’s free Noon Musicale, form 12:15 to 1 p.m., at the First Unitarian Society Meeting house, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature the Madison Horn Club in music by Bach, Haydn, Rossini, Borodin and others.

For information, call (608) 233-9774.

At 4 p.m. in Room 1641 of the Mosse Humanities Building, in a free Colloquium-Conference Preview, current graduate students in the UW School of Music will give previews of their upcoming conference papers.

At 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) will perform under the baton of codnuctor Andrew Sewell.

The guest artists are the Time for Three string trio (below, in a photo by Steve J. Sherman).

The program includes Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite”; American composer Jennifer
 Higdon’s “Concerto 4-3,” which was written specifically for the soloists (see and listen below); 
Milhaud’s “Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit” (The Steer of the Roof); and Meyer/Hedges “The American Suite.”

For more information and tickets, call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit:

Also on Friday at 8 p.m., in Mills Hall, UW cellist Parry Karp (below) and pianist Eli Kalman will perform on the Faculty Concert Series. The program features the Sonata in B-flat for cello and piano, Op. 130 by Hans Huber; the Sonata in C for cello and piano, Op. 65 by Benjamin Britten; the Sonata for cello and piano, Op. 4 by Zoltán Kodály; and the well-known Sonata in A major for piano and cello, Op. 69 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Admission is free and open to the public.


At 7:30 p.m. in the First Congregational Church, 1609 University Ave., the local chamber music group  Con vivo! (With Life!) will perform Igor Stravinsky’s rarely heard “The Soldier’s Tale” with the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s John DeMain guest conducting and with American Player’s Theatre actors James Ridge, David Daniel and Susan Sweeney narrating.

This is a big step for Con vivo! (below), which is now nine years old, but which usually performs on Thursday nights and does not usually feature such high-profile collaborations or guest artists. The Ear thinks it is a very smart move.

As for the story and the music, a press release offers this summary: “Discover what happens to a soldier who trades his beloved violin to the devil in exchange for an enchanted book that promises wealth untold.  Hear Stravinsky’s evocative music with Lutheran chorales, a tango and jazz influences that perfectly reflect the story … From folk tales, from dreams and memories, and from diverse musical sources that span the ages, an inspired work was created – international and timeless. It can be enjoyed on many levels – for its music, its bright instrumental color, its cunning formal structure, and its moving drama. They all work together to form this masterpiece.”

Tickets are $12 or $10 for seniors and students and can be purchased at the door, or in advance at Orange Tree Imports, 1111 Monroe St.

The concert will be followed by a reception where audience members and performers can meet and discuss the performance.  Parking is available at the University Foundation, 1848 University Ave. and in the UW Engineering Lot #17.

Now in its ninth season, Con  vivo! is a professional chamber music ensemble comprised of Madison area musicians assembled from the ranks of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and various other performing groups familiar to Madison audiences.

At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below) will perform on the Faculty Concert Series. The program features “Summer Dances” by William Mathias; “The Golden Section” by Jim Parker; “Symphony No. 48” by Joseph Haydn, arranged by Douglas Lindsey; and “Timepieces” for brass quintet by UW composer Douglas Hill.

Admission is free and open to the public.


“Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” features the Rountree Ensemble (below) from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art. The program includes Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” for solo flute; Rachmaninov’s “Etude Tableau,”, Op. 39, No. 5, in E-Flat minor; Saint-Saëns’ Sonata in E flat, Op. for clarinet and piano; and Magnard’s Quintet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and piano. AS it usual, it will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio.

The Rountree Ensemble is currently in its ninth season as the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s professional ensemble-in-residence. The core of the ensemble consists of UW-Platteville music faculty members, with other visiting artists participating as instrumentation requires.

The members playing this concert are Margaret Cornils, Laura Medisky, John Marco, Barry Ellis, Eugene Alcalay, and Sharon Jenson.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can call ahead and reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited. All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For more information or to learn how to become a museum member, contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception follows the performance, with refreshments generously donated by Fresh Madison Market, Coffee Bytes and Steep & Brew. A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

At 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, two winners of the Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition will perform. The competition is sponsored by Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain, who was a serious amateur flutist and who started the annual Beethoven Piano Sonata Competition each spring. The concert is free and open to the pubic.

This year’s winners are: Matthew Butterfield, oboe, and Amanda Horn, piano; and David Pierringer, flute, and Ka Man Ng, piano. The program includes: Two Fantasy Pieces for oboe and piano, Op. 2 by Carl Nielsen; Sonata for oboe and piano, Op. 185 by Francis Poulenc; Sonata for oboe and piano, Op. 166 by Camille Saint-Saens; Introduction and Variations on “Trockne Blumen” for flute and piano, Op. post. 160, D. 802 by Franz Schubert; and Sonata in D major for flute and piano, Op. 94 by Sergei Prokofiev. The audience is invited to meet the performers at a reception following the concert in Strelow Lounge.

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University Bands will perform under the directors Justin Stolarik, Erik Jester and Matthew Schlomer. The concert is free.

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Winds of Wisconsin will perform under conductor Scott Teeple (below.) The concert is free and open to the public.


On Monday at 12:15 p.m. in Mills Hall, guest cellist Kangho Lee (below, teaching), who will perform a free recital Wednesday night, will give a free and public cello master class.

At 7 p.m. at Oakwood Village West, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet will give its first recital of the new year.

The quartet will perform Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4 in C minor and Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 13 in G Major. The recital will be held in the Resurrection Chapel in the Hebron Oaks Building at Oakwood Village West.

A $5 donation is suggested at the door.

The Rhapsodie Quartet (below) is made up of co-concertmaster Suzanne Beia, principal violist Christopher Dozoryst, principal cellist Karl Lavine and violinist Laura Burns. The quartet is the resident quartet of the MSO’s HeartStrings Community Engagement Program.


At 7:30 p.m. in Old Music Hall (below), the University Opera will hold an Opera Workshop that is free and open to the public. The program features scenes from scenes from “La clemenza di Tito,” “Le nozze di Figaro” and “Cosi fan tutte” by Mozart; “Werther” by Massenet; “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Britten; and “La Cenerentola” by Rossini.  Pianists are Mimmi Fulmer, Susan Goeres and Bill Lutes; directors are William Farlow, Mimmi Fulmer and Arielle Basile. A reception will follow the program, sponsored by Opera Props.  Free admission.

Posted in Classical music

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