The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: University of Wisconsin pianist Christopher Taylor sends a letter and photos from his concert tour to Perm, Russia.

May 23, 2012
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ALERT: This Thursday night at 7 p.m. in The Playhouse of the Overture Center, the Rhapsodie String Quartet (below, in a photo by Greg Anderson), which is made up of members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, will perform a FREE concert of Haydn’s “Emperor” String Quartet in C major, Op. 76, No. 3, and Brahms’ String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 51. No admission will be charged, but freewill donations are welcome at the door.

By Jacob Stockinger

Remembers those Letters from Paris or Berlin in The New Yorker magazine that begin “A friend writes …”? I have always loved them and think Janet Flanner and Adam Gopnik, who served as Paris correspondents, were especially  terrific and worthy of that city.

Anyway, The Ear just received something similar from the acclaimed pianist Christopher Taylor (below), who teaches at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Taylor recently left on a week-long concert tour to Perm, Russia, which is some 4,900 miles away from Madison. Here is a link to the posting that announced that and other news about Taylor.

In Perm, Taylor’s path has crossed those of such historical figures as Serge Diaghilev, the founder of the famed Ballets Russes, which premiered Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and other works; and the Nobel Prize-winning poet and novelist Boris Pasternak.

Here is his e-mail Letter from Perm:

“Zdravstye, Jake,

“I’m having a good time here.

“Night before last was my recital featuring Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards” (“sur l’enfant Jesus”), which went over well. Last night I shared a program with the Russian pianists Ivan Sokolov and Anton Batagov, playing little snippets of Bach, Schumann, Messiaen and Ligeti.

“Tomorrow is the final obligation, Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” (The Wedding) and a new work by contemporary Russian composer Vladimir Nikolaev, scored for the same forces as “Les Noces” (4 pianos, percussion, vocal soloists and chorus). Rehearsals begin in a couple of hours.  Should be an adventure.

“Enclosed are a couple of inexpert photos.

“No. 1 shows the hall where the Messiaen occurred and the Stravinsky/Nikolaev program will take place. The picture on the central banner is (violinist Vladimir) Spivakov, who will be guest conducting here in June.  The black banners left and right are for the Diaghilev festival in which I’m taking part.  The first of the four names in the banner on the right is me.

“No. 2 shows that Perm is a bustling modern city, complete with MacDonald’s.

“No. 3 is the house where Diaghilev grew up, where last night’s joint recital occurred.

“And No. 4 is the pleasant central park with its Pasternak memorial (Pasternak spent time here and based much of “Doctor Zhivago” on this city).

“So, gotta run.  Hope to see you before long!



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