The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: This week is filled with great Beethoven, Bach and Mozart and could be the best instrumental week of the season.

April 6, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Despite some unfortunate conflicts between events, it is hard to imagine a better week in the entire season filled with non-vocal music that the one coming up.

Beethoven fans have special reason to rejoice, since they will have the chance to hear some of the very best of the very best by Meister Ludwig: the Symphony No. 7, the Piano Concerto No. 4, and the three Piano Sonatas Op. 28 (“Pastorale”), Op. 110 and the crowning finale of the cycle Op. 111. All are favorites of The Ear.

Of course Mozart fans can rejoice, as can strong quartet fans, with tonight’s recital by the Pro Arte String Quartet with guest violist Samuel Rhodes of the Juilliard String Quartet.

And then there is the UW Symphony Orchestra in Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 and Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances.”

For early music fans, the early music group the Madison Bach Musicians will perform some of the most popular and demanding string concertos for violin and harpsichord, as well as the Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, by J.S. Bach.

I mean really, how much great classical music can a city the of Madison support? Never too much, it seems.

Read on and be tempted:


At 7:30 p.m. tonight in Mills Hall, Samuel Rhodes, who has been the violist in the Juilliard String Quartet since 1969, will perform with the Pro Arte Quartet for the Faculty Concert Series. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will begin its program with the “String Quartet in D minor,” Op. 76, No. 2 (“Quinten” or “Fifths”) by Haydn, originally scheduled for its concert on February 12 that was cancelled due to illness.  The remainder of the program, with Rhodes, features the viola quintets in E-flat major and D major by Mozart. The viola quintets are wonderful and often overlooked works by Wolfie.

Here is a UW School of music press release: “Rhodes is a consummate artist, acclaimed as recitalist, soloist with orchestra, composer and teacher, as well as for his long tenure with the Juilliard Quartet. He has performed the world premieres of works by Donald Martino, Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter and organized and performed in New York recitals commemorating the 90th and 100th anniversaries of the birth of composer Paul Hindemith.

“He serves as chair of the viola faculty at the Juilliard School, where he has taught since he joined the quartet, and he is a faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center. Rhodes’s string quintet has been performed and recorded by the Pro Arte Quartet (with the composer as guest).

“As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Rhodes (below, in a photo by Peter Shaaf) has toured throughout Europe, North and South America, the Near East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  The quartet has commissioned and performed the world premieres of works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Mario Davidovsky, Henri Dutilleux, Alberto Ginastera, John Harbison and many others.  It has recorded an extensive catalog of the string quartet literature on CBS Masterworks, Sony Classical, Wergo and CRI labels, winning three Grammy awards for the Debussy and Ravel quartets, the complete Schoenberg quartets and the complete Beethoven quartets.”

Those are some credentials, no? You should hear Sam Rhodes live – and maybe you have because he plays fairly often with the Pro Arte, which is a great gesture of respect and vote of confidence for them.


The recital by UW percussionist Anthony Di Sanza has been CANCELLED.


From 12:15 to 1 p.m., the weekly free Noon musicale at the first Unitarian Meeting house, 900 University Bay Drive, will features Deidre Buckley, viola, Ruth Dahlke, oboe, and Ellen Burmeister, piano in the music of Telemann and Charles Loeffler

For information, call (608) 233-9774.

At 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center is one of the most exciting events of the season for The Ear: the Madison debut of the young Israeli pianist Shai Wosner with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) under Andrew Sewell. (He is filling in for Anne-Marie McDermott, who was doubled-booked and had to cancel a performance of Mozart’s C Minor Piano Concerto.)

To close out the WCO’s winter “Masterworks” season, Wosner will perform Beethoven’s gorgeous Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58 (the Ear’s favorite Beethoven concerto) Also on the program are Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 (the Ear’s favorite Beethoven symphony) and a contemporary work “Orawa” (1988) by the Polish composer Wojciech Kilar.

Tickets are $15-$62. Call (608) 258-4141 or visit:

For more information about Wosner (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve), visit:

Also at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Symphony Orchestra, under conductor James Smith (below), will perform “Symphonic Dances,” Op. 45 by Sergei Rachmaninoff and “Symphony No. 1,” Op. 68 by Johannes Brahms.

The concert is free and open to the public.


At 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, the three winners of the annual UW School of music’s Beethoven Piano Sonata Competition will perform. Admission is free and open to the public.

The competition took place on April 2, and three winners emerged from a field of nine entrants—Hallie Houge, Margaret Runaas and Jeongmin Lee.

Hallie Houge, a senior, will graduate this spring with a Bachelor of Science degree, for which she has majored in both piano performance and mathematics.  A native of Green Bay and graduate of its Preble High School, she studies piano with Jessica Johnson at the School of Music.  Previous teachers include Justin Krawitz, Ina Selvelieva, Martha Fischer, Catherine Kautsky and Stella Tovbina.  Houge accompanies vocal students in their lessons, master classes, juries and concerts, has worked for four years for University Opera’s costume shop and assists with a variety of responsibilities in the school’s main administrative office.  She plans to enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for a master’s degree program in math education.  She will perform Sonata No. 15 in D major, Op. 28 (“Pastorale”).

Margaret Runaas is a second-year Master of Music degree candidate in piano performance and studies with Todd Welbourne.  She received the B.M. degree in piano performance in 2009 from Wartburg College, where she studied with Ted Reuter.  Her previous teachers have included Chiu-Ling Lin, Karen Langstraat and her mother.  Runaas is a teaching assistant at UW-Madison, teaching class piano and private piano lessons to undergraduate students, and is a member of UW-Madison’s collegiate chapter of MTNA, the Music Teachers National Association.  She will perform Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110.

Jeongmin Lee is a native of Seoul, South Korea and graduate of Seoul National University, where she studied with Nakho Paik and Haesun Paik.  She received the artist diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, where she studied with Haewon Song, and a master’s degree from Northwestern University as a student of Alan Chow and Marcia Bosits.  She is pursuing the D.M.A. degree in piano performance and pedagogy, studying with Todd Welbourne and Jessica Johnson.  For two years prior to coming to UW-Madison, Lee taught piano and music at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology and Yanbian International Academy in China.  She has given many solo and chamber performances in South Korea, China and the U. S., and has participated in the Banff and Orford (Quebec) festivals. She will perform “Sonata No. 32 in C minor,” Op. 111.

The Beethoven Piano Competition, now in its 26th year, is sponsored by UW-Madison Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain (below). The judge for this year’s competition was Professor Eun-Joo Kwak of Cardinal Stritch University.

A reception will be held for performers and audience following the concert. For more information about School of Music concerts, see

On Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 10, at 3 p.m. in the intimate and acoustically ideal setting of Trinity Lutheran Church, 1904 Winnebago Street on the near east side, the Madison Bach Musicians  (below) will perform two concerts featuring Concertos by Bach and Tartini.

Joining the MBM for this program is internationally acclaimed baroque violin virtuoso Marilyn McDonald (below) from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

McDonald will be the featured soloist in the fiendishly difficult Tartini (1692-1770) Violin Concerto in E minor; and she will join MBM concertmaster Kangwon Kim in Bach’s Concerto in D minor for two violins.

MBM founder and director Trevor Stephenson, will perform Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 5 in F minor (composed by Bach probably for his collegium musicum ensemble that performed regularly at Zimmermann’s coffee house during the mid 1730s). The concert will conclude with Bach’s energetically joyful Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G major.

Stephenson (below) will give a free lecture 45 minutes before each concert. He will cover the pieces, the period instruments, and the structure and aesthetic underpinning of 18th-century temperaments (tuning systems).

Tickets for Madison Bach Musicians concerts may be purchased in advance or at the door with cash or checks only. Make checks payable to Madison Bach Musicians.

Advance ticket prices: $20 general, $15 students/seniors (over 65)

Tickets at the door: $25 general, $20 students/seniors.

Advance price discount tickets are available at: Orange Tree Imports,

Farley’s House of Pianos, A Room of One’s Own, Ward Brodt Music Mall and the east side Willy Street Co-op.

There is more information about the programs and advanced tickets at:

At 8 p.m in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir under Beverly Taylor (below) will perform. The concert is free and open to the public.

The Concert Choir, recently back from its spring break tour to the East Coast, performs music by Mendelssohn, Victoria, Bach, Herbert Howells, Robert Kyr, Astor Piazzolla and Sydney Guillaume.


From 12:30 to 2 p.m. “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” features the Artaria String Quartet and pianist Mary Ellen in Brittingham Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art.

The program will feature Samuel Barber’s String Quartet, Op. 11, George Gershwin’s Lullaby for String Quartet and Antonín Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81.

The Artaria String Quartet was originally formed in Boston and is now based in St. Paul and Minneapolis.  The group consists of members Ray shows on violin, Nancy Oliveros on violin, Annalee Wolf on viola and Laura Sewell on cello. They will be accompanied by pianist Mary Ellen Haupert, who is Associate Professor of Music at Vertibo University.

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 2:30 p.m., in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, at Edgewood College. The program includes Schubert’s Overture in D (“Italian”), Purcell’s “The Gordian Knot Untied,” Saint-Saens’ “Rigaudon” and Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”), all conducted by Blake Walter (below, in a photo by John Maniaci). Admission is $5.

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble under UW composer Laura Schwendinger (below) will perform.

The program features “Sequenza” for solo voice by Luciano Berio, with Julia Bentley, mezzo-soprano; “Kalamang” for flute and clarinet by Jerry Hui; “Niggun” for solo bassoon by Philippe Hersant, with Marc Vallon, bassoon; “About a Mountain” by Laura Schwendinger, with Julia Bentley, mezzo-soprano; and Dawn Lawler, flutes; “Four Primo Levi Settings” by Simon Bainbride with Julia Bentley, mezzo-soprano; Les Thimmig, clarinet; Daniel Kim, viola; and Martha Fischer, piano.

The concert is free and open to the public.

At 4 p.m. at the Heritage Congregational Church, 3102 Prairie Road in Madison, the Chamber Singers of the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, under Robert Gehrenback, will present a FREE spring concert. The choir’s program will consist of sacred and secular music from the Renaissance to the present day.

The concert will open with Charles Stanford’s powerful motet,” Justorum animae” (The Souls of the Righteous), followed by Palestrina’s doleful setting of “Super flumina Babylonis” (By the Waters of Babylon). The remainder of the program is a musical tour through some of the different eras of classical music, including Renaissance madrigals and later works in a madrigal vein by twentieth-century English, French, and Czech composers.

The composers included are the English composer E. J. Moeran (1894-1950), French impressionist composer Claude Debussy and the 20th-century Bohemian composer Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959), whose music the Chamber Singers will sing in the original Czech.

On the lighter side, the choir’s program features several arrangements of Latin-American popular music, including a tango by Astor Piazzolla of Argentina, and “Salseo,” an infectious choral rumba by Venezuelan composers Oscar Galian. A set of rousing African-American Spirituals completes the program.


Posted in Classical music

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