The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music datebook: This week’s Best Bets show that the new season is almost up to full steam with early music, chamber music and orchestral music as highlights.

October 5, 2011
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By Jacob Stockinger

What else can one say but WOW!!!!!

This week it has become obvious: The new season is really well under way, complete with conflicts, and almost up to full steam, with only the Madison Opera, Edgewood College and some other groups still waiting to check in.

How else do you explain having a classical music concert or event to go to on every night, and on so many afternoons, of the coming week. And so many of them are tempting MUST-HEARS. Why, listening to classical music in Madison could become a full-time job!

This week sees the opening concerts of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the free Friday Noon Musicales at the First Unitarian Society, the early music group Eliza’s Toyes and the Madison Bach Musicians. Not bad!

In addition, events are picking up fast at the University of Wisconsin School of Music. And although I normally stick to local events, the Milwaukee group Early Music Now is presenting a rare concert by the renowned and acclaimed Jordi Savall.

Here are some specifics:


Today at 1 p.m. in Room 1341 of the Mosse Humanities Building cellist Joseph Johnson (below) will give a master class. You may remember when he and violinist Frank Almond performed the Brahms Double Concerto with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra under Edo de Waart at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

Then at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, cellist Johnson and pianist Victor Asuncion will perform a free concert on the UW Guest Artist Series. The program features the Variations in E-flat major on “Bei Mannern,” WoO 46, by Beethoven; the Sonata for Cello and Piano by Britten; and the Cello Sonata No. 2 in F major, Op. 99, by Brahms.

Joseph Johnson is the new principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and of the Santa Fe Opera. He was previously the principal cellist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Victor Asuncion is associate professor of piano and director of collaborative piano studies at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. The duo has recently released its first CD and the present concert is part of a six-city tour promoting the release.


At 7:30 pm. in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra (below, from last season) will perform a FREE concert under conductor James Smith and graduate assistant conductor David Grandis.

For its first program of the season, the group will perform “Carnaval,” Op. 9 by Robert Schumann, as orchestrated by Maurice Ravel; “The Wound Dresser” by John Adams, based on a poem by Walt Whitman and sung by UW baritone Paul Rowe; and Sinfonietta for Orchestra by Francis Poulenc.


The weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicales resume every Friday from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Landmark Auditorium (below, with FUS music director Dan Broner making an introduction) at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive.

This week pianist Douglas Jurs plays music of Haydn (Sonata No. 50 in C major), Roussel (Prelude), Scriabin (“Poeme”), Chopin (Ballade No. 3), Gershwin (Three Preludes) and Debussy (“Children’s Corner Suite).

For information, call 233-9774.

Currently on the piano faculty at both the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College, Douglas Jurs has performed solo and collaborative recitals throughout the U.S. and abroad in cities like Vienna and Milan and at festivals such as the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, Holland International Music Sessions and Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec.

For the 2011-2012 season, he will be performing at several colleges and universities throughout the Midwest and southeast, as well as at the Blue Horse Music Festival in Woodstock, Vermont, a June festival he started at a friend’s inn featuring world-class artists primarily from New York.

You can next hear him in Madison on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 7:30 p.m. performing with Illinois State viola professor Katherine Lewis in UW’s Morphy Hall.  His music degrees are from the University of Wisconsin, Cleveland Institute of Music and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he was a Friends of Music Scholar, double major in English Literature, and rider for the Cutters cycling team.

This Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, playing under the baton of music director Andrew Sewell, will open its new season.

The featured soloist is the young Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev (below), who will be making his Madison debut.

On the program are Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” both with Yakushev, as well as Sir Edward Elgar’s Serenade for Strings in E minor, Op. 20, and Aaron Copland’s “Music for the Theatre.”

Tickets are $15, $18, $35, $55 and $62. Call 258-4141 or visit the Overture Center site below.

For more information about the concert and tickets, visit:

Friday, October 7 at 8 p.m., Mills Hall: UW Wind Ensemble, conducted by Scott Teeple (below).  The program includes “Fanfare: Chronicles” by James Territo, “Dionysiaques,” Op. 62 by Florent Schmitt, “When Jesus Wept by” William Schuman, “Gazebo Dances” by John Corigliano, “Theme and Variations,” Op. 43a by Arnold Schoenberg and “Redline Tango” by John Makey. Free admission.


On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in Spring Green at Taliesin, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson) will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No. 1; Four Pieces for String Quartet by Karas; and Schubert’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, D. 112. A donation of $5 is suggested at the door. The concert will be repeated on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Madison Bach Musicians (below) will begin its 2011-12 season — its eighth — with two concerts featuring music by three generations of the Bach family: 
Johann Sebastian, Johann Christoph, Carl Philipp Emmanuel and Wilhelm Friedemann.

Concerts (with lectures) are Saturday at 8 p.m. concert (lecture is 7:15 p.m.) at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1904 Winnebago St.; on 
Sunday, at 3:30 p.m. concert
 (lecture at 2:45 p.m.) at the First Unitarian Society’s new Atrium Auditorium, 900 University Bay Drive. Advance tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors over 65 and students; they are available at Ward-Brodt, A Room on One’ Own, Orange Tree Imports, Farley’s House of Piano and Willy Street Coop; at the door, $25 and $20. For more information, visit:

The concert starts with a 17th-century Cantata masterpiece “Meine Freundin du bist schön” by Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)–J. S. Bach’s father’s brother’s son. This will be followed by Johann Sebastian’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin, BWV 1060, also familiar to Bach lovers as the Concerto for Two Harpsichords. After the intermission MBM will perform a hauntingly beautiful lamentation movement by J.S. Bach’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach.

The concert will conclude with two works by a younger son from J. S. Bach’s first marriage, the still-avant-garde-in-2011 Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach–known generally today as CPE. MBM will pay two arias, adapted for oboe and bassoon, from CPE’s oratorio “The Israelites in the Desert” and the concert will conclude with CPE’s last concerto (completed in 1788, the year of his death), the visionary Concerto for Harpsichord, Fortepiano and Orchestra.

Says MBM director Trevor Stephenson (below): “This concerto places a central sonic emblem of the old world, the harpsichord (fast fading by this time), on stage with the new-fangled fortepiano—the wave of the future. The dialog between them, even though couched in CPE’s usual angular and unpredictable phrase structure, is surprisingly sweet, smooth, and uncluttered, with each instrument presenting the same material–often in an antiphonal fashion–but in their characteristic voice: plucked string of the harpsichord versus the hammered string of the fortepiano.”

Adds Stephenson: “There is joy in the new-found world of Classicism, a care-free stance very much like Haydn’s. But I cannot shake the feeling that there is an underlying wistfulness, a farewell to the grandeur of the baroque, to CPE’s own life, and, as it turned out, to the Bach family line of composers.”

Saturday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall:  Faculty Concert Series—Mark Hetzler, trombone (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) and Martha Fischer, piano. “of Clowns and Dreams . . .” by John Harmon; “Night Set” by Robert Suderburg; and “Arrows of Time” by Richard Peaslee.  Free admission.

Saturday at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. reception) 
in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts at the UW-Milwaukee: The Milwaukee-based group Early Music Now opens its 25th anniversary “Season of Celebrations” with early music superstar viola da gambist Jordi Savall (below) and his son Ferran, in the first ever performance of a new program that will be heard in only three other US cities on this tour: Cleveland, New York and Miami. The program explicitly fulfills the intent of Early Music Now’s tagline of presenting music “Across Borders — Across Time.”

Tickets:  Preferred Section are $40 for adult and seniors; $20 for students. General Admission is $25 for adult and seniors; $10 for students. Tickets are available at’ or by calling (414) 225-3113, or the UW-Milwaukee Box Office (414) 229-4308.

Jordi Savall’s own program notes state: “The program of “Folias & Romances” is conceived as an inter-cultural dialogue whose purpose is to point to or build firm bridges between: Eastern and Western music; The Old and the New Worlds; Cultivated music and popular (anonymous) works derived from the oral traditions; Ancient and contemporary music; Different generations of performers;
 and also between performers and their audiences.”


From 12:30 to 2 p.m.: “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” features the UW’s Pro Arte Quartet (below), which is celebrating its centennial this season, and UW-Platteville pianist Eugene Alcalay in Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 4 and Brahms’ Piano Quintet in F Minor.  The concert will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM in the Madison area).

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 4 p.m., at the Point and Eastgate Cinemas, the Los Angeles Philharmonic LIVE hi-def series with superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel (below) kicks off its new season with a 2-1/2 hour all-Mendelssohn concert. The program features the “Hebrides” Overture, the “Scottish” Symphony and the Violin Concerto with acclaimed Dutch virtuoso Janine Jansen. For more information, including the two other LA Live concerts this season and ticket prices plus background material, visit:

At 7:30 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue in James Madison Park, 302 East Gorham Street, the Madison-based early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below, in Gates of Heaven) embarks on a season of German music. The first concert is “Senfl Indulgence” and features instrumental and vocal music by the underappreciated Swiss-German composer Ludwig Senfl (1486-1543). The title itself is a word play—Senfl witnessed the dawn of the Reformation, which began with Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, opposing the Roman Catholic Church’s “indulgence sales” among other points. Admission at the door is $10.


At 7 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in G Major, Op. 77, No. 1; Four Pieces for String Quartet by Karas; and Schubert’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, D. 112. A donation of $5 is suggested at the door.

Monday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m., Morphy Hall: Guest Artist Series—Nicole Esposito and Michel Bellavance, flutes. Esposito (below) is assistant professor of flute at the University of Iowa School of Music. Bellavance is professor of flute at the Geneva (Switzerland) Conservatory.  Free admission.


Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall: Guest Artist Series features David Zerkel, tuba (bel0w) and Diana Shapiro, piano. Zerkel is associate professor of tuba and euphonium at the University of Georgia Hodgson School of Music. Shapiro is a member of the internationally acclaimed Varshavski-Shapiro Piano Duo; she recently completed the D.M.A. degree at the UW-Madison School of Music.  The program includes works by G. P. Telemann, UW composer John Stevens, Reynaldo Hahn and others.  Free admission.


At 1 p.m. in Mills Hall, violinist Katie Wolfe  (below) will give a master class.

Then at 6:30 p.m. in Morphy Hall, violinist Wolfe and pianist Adrienne Kim will perform on the Guest Artist Series. The program consists of three works: Sonata No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 12, No. 3 by Beethoven; Sonata No. 2 by Bartok; and Sonata No. 1, Op. 75 by Saint-Saens.

Katie Wolfe is associate professor of violin at the University of Iowa School of Music and a founding member of the Matisse Piano Trio and the Wolfe/Nez Duo (with pianist Ketty Nez). Adrienne Kim is an instructor at the Syracuse University Setnor School of Music and a faculty member at the Kinhaven Music School in Vermont.

Posted in Classical music

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