The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Chamber music doesn’t come more exciting than Mendelssohn’s String Octet. Hear it this Saturday and Sunday performed by the Ancora String Quartet and the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie Quartet.

May 16, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear thinks one of the most exciting and enjoyable pieces of chamber EVER written is the Octet for two string quartets written by Felix Mendelssohn (below) in 1825.

I still hold very fond memories of two performances by the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet, one of which was performed with the acclaimed Emerson String Quartet at the Wisconsin Union Theater.

There is an inherent element of competition as well as teamwork  that only adds to the excitement of a performance.

This weekend on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon you can hear the Ancora String Quartet (below) team up with guest artists from the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Rhapsodie String Quartet to perform the Octet by Mendelssohn plus Prokofiev’s String  Quartet No. 1. A champagne reception follows the performance Saturday evening.

Tickets for general seating will be available at the door for $15; $12 for seniors, students and FUS members; and $6 for children under 12.

In addition, the quartet’s co-founder and violist Marika Fischer Hoyt has also started a blog to go with the group’s website.

Here is a link to the Ancora’s website, which has more information and biographies:

And here is a link to the new and welcome blog:

Finally here is the press release about this weekend’s upcoming concerts.

“Please join the critically acclaimed Ancora String Quartet for the final concert of our 11th season.  In this season, entitled The Musician and His Muse, we are exploring the fascinating working relationships between four master composers and the violinists who inspired, critiqued, and ultimately premiered their now-famous string quartets.

Our May 19 and 20 recital program includes works by Prokofiev (below), the String Quartet in B minor, Op. 50, composed in 1930-31; and by Mendelssohn, the Octet; there will be an examination of their working relationships with Antonio Brosa and Eduard Rietz, respectively.

‘The program features the famous Mendelssohn Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 20, (composed in 1825 for Rietz’ 23rd birthday), for which we will be joined onstage by The Rhapsodie String Quartet (below), of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s HeartStrings Community Engagement Program.  We are delighted to play with our respected colleagues, and have added an extra performance to accommodate the anticipated increased demand for tickets.

The pair of recitals will take place on Saturday, May 19, 2012, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 2:30 p.m., in the Landmark Auditorium, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive. That is also where the Ancora Quartet remains artists-in-residence.

Tne Ancora Quartet (below, at the FUS) consists of violinist Leanne Kelso League and Robin Ryant; violist Marika Fisher Hoyt; and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb. The Rhapsodie Quartet  consists of violinist Suzann Beia and Laura Burns; violist  Christopher Dozryst; and cellist Karl Lavine.

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