The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: The regular season closes on a high note with Mahler and Mozart plus early music and chamber music.

May 4, 2011
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

There are a few exceptions like the Oakwood Chamber Players, Con Vivo and the Madison Youth Choirs. But for the most part, as of this week the regular concert season will end.

Yet as far as The Ear is concerned, it will end on a high note — on several  high notes in fact.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, plus soloists UW soprano Julia Faulkner (below top) and mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck (below bottom), all under the baton of John DeMain, will perform Mahler’s massive, and monumentally beautiful, Symphony No. 2, called “Resurrection.”

The huge symphony by Mahler is coupled with what I sometimes call the “Croissant” Concerto – Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp — with MSO principal flutist Stephanie Jutt (below top) and principal harpist Karen Beth Atz (below bottom).

I say that in good-natured jest because that concerto is so pleasant to listen to that it has become the ultimate in background music – “Brunch Musick,” as Mr. Handel might put it — and because I seem to recall hearing it decades ago at the old Ovens of Brittany restaurant when croissants, quiche and other French treats were first establishing a solid beachhead in downtown Madison.

So of course the tape-looped concerto was overplayed and under-listened to – sharing the unfortunate fare of many great but easy-listening classics.

Yet it remains a uniquely gracious work, with all the tuneful elegance and melodiousness you’d expect of Mozart.

Moreover, I think it is a stroke of genius on DeMain’s part to couple such a light and digestible  Classical  work by Mozart (below top) with such a heavy and self-consciously profound Late Romantic work by Mahler (below bottom). (DeMain did something similar very successfully a few seasons ago when he programmed a Haydn cello concerto with a Mahler symphony.)

The Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, plus soloists soprano Julia Faulkner and mezzo-soprano Jamie Van Eyck will perform the program on in Overture Hall in Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15-$75. Call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141. (Note: There is a special Mother’s Day discount for the Sunday afternoon performance.)

This MSO program has all the makings of a MUST-HEAR concert. I will be there and so should you. You will not be disappointed.

For more information and tickets, visit:

For program notes sure to convince you, visit:


The free Friday Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society Meeting house, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature the Kandelwood String Quartet (below top) with pianist Jess Salek (below bottom) in Dvorak’s Quintet in A major, a terrific work, if you don’t already know it, that ranks with the greatest best piano quintets including ones by Schubert, Brahms and Schumann.

At 4 p.m., in Room 1641 of the Mosse Humanities Building, UW musicologist Pamela Potter will give a free public lecture.

Pamela M. Potter, Professor of Musicology, also holds affiliations with the Department of German and the Center for Jewish Studies. Her interests concentrate on relating music, the arts, and the writing of cultural history to ideological, political, social, and economic conditions, focusing on 20th-century Germany, Jewish music, and the impact of German emigration on American musical life.

Potter is the author of “Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler’s Reich” (Yale University Press, 1998; German edition: Klett-Cotta Verlag, 2000), chosen as Choice Magazine outstanding academic book, and co-editor of “Music and German National Identity” (University of Chicago Press, 2002).

At 7:30 p.m., the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform: See above.


Eliza’s Toyes (below top), an early music ensemble comprising eight local musicians, will perform at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue(below bottom), 302 East Gorham Street, in James Madison Park.

The program, “This Merry Month,” will be a celebration of the long-awaited spring, featuring fun and light-hearted madrigals as well as instrumental music from England and Italy in 16th and 17th centuries.

Admission is free; donations are accepted.

Eliza’s Toyes’ program will outline the development of madrigals as a genre. It will feature translated Italian madrigals, as published in “Musica Transalpina” (1588) and “Italian Madrigals Englished” (1590), as well as madrigals from “The Triumphes of Oriana” (1601), a monumental collection of music by English composers which celebrates the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Composers whose works are featured in this program include Bateson, Byrd, Dowland, Farmer, Ferrabosco, Marenzio, Monteverdi, Morley, Weelkes and Wilbye.

Originating as an ensemble formed by participants of the Madison Early Music Festival, Eliza’s Toyes is now in its fourth season as an independent ensemble in Madison, specializing in music from the Renaissance and early Baroque.

Performers (below) in Eliza’s Toyes include: Arielle Basile and Katherine Peck, soprano; Sandy Erickson, alto and recorders; Steve Johnson, tenor; Ben Li, baritone; Jerry Hui, bass and recorders; Theresa Koenig, dulcian; and Doug Towne, lute.

For more information, please visit

At 8 p.m., the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform: See above.


“Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” closes its regular season as it usually does, with the UW Pro Arte Quartet (below) from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III at the Chazen Museum of Art. It will be broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio.

The program includes Hayden’s String Quartet in D Minor, “Quinten” of “Fifths,” and Mozart’s String Quintet in D Major, K 593.

The Ear heard the Pro Arte perform these great works at this last concert. It’s a great program that you should catch if you can. The performances were so close to perfection, and the music so great, thatIi also give this concert a MUST-HEAR rating, whether you do so in person or on the radio.

The quartet, consisting of faculty members violinists David Perry and Suzanne Beia, violist Sally Chisholm, and cellist Parry Karp, has performed during Sunday Afternoon Live for more then 10 years. The group was established in 1912 – next season the PAQ will mark its centennial with six new commissions — and continues to be a favorite among “Sunday Afternoon Live” attendees and listeners.

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., the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus perform: See above.

At 8 p.m. in the Promenade Hall of the Overture Center, marimbist Nathaniel Bartlett (below) will present a mixed media concert with video artist Toby Kaufmann.

Admission is $16, $10 for student and seniors. Call the Overture Box Office at (608) 258-4141.

For more information, visit

Posted in Classical music

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