The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Do you know “The Three SCHs” of early music? During November, Eliza’s Toyes will give three concerts of rarely heard music by those German Baroque composers. | November 1, 2012

TWO ALERTS: On Friday at the landmark First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, this week’s FREE Noon Musicale from noon to 1:15 p.m. features UW violinist Tyrone Greive and UW pianist Martha Fischer in music by Sibelius, Bacewicz, Szymanowski and others. Then on Friday night at 8 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, guitarist Nathan Wysock (below) will perform a FREE recital on the University of Wisconsin School of Music’s Guest Artist Series. The program features  “American Bouquet’ by George Rochberg; “Serenade for Guitar’ by Lou Harrison, featuring percussionist Todd Hammes; “Shenandoah” by Robert Beaser; and “Machine 3” by Leo Kottke.

By Jacob Stockinger

Some important period instrument and early music vocal concerts of German Baroque composers are coming up in November. Here is the latest from Jerry Hui (below), a University of Wisconsin School of Music graduate who is an accomplished composer and an acclaimed performer who also directs and sings in Eliza’s Toyes and the contemporary music group NEW MUSE (New Music Everywhere).

Madison, Wis.–Eliza’s Toyes (below) and guest performers will be performing rarely heard music composed by Heinrich Schütz, Johann Hermann Schein, and Samuel Scheidt in a program titled “The Three Sch’s: Music By Schütz, Schein, and Scheidt.”

Madison area residents will have three chances in November to hear it live: this Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church; on Saturday, Nov. 17 a 4 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church; and on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 12:30 p.m. at the Chazen Museum of Art. The last performance will also be broadcast over Wisconsin Public Radio, on “Live from the Chazen,” (below) which is hosted by Lori Skelton.

All performances are free and open to the public; free-will donations will be accepted at the first two concerts.

Schütz (below), among the three featured composers, received the most household recognition because his career spanned across several countries. However, they all were regarded highly. Singled out by the 17th-century German composer/theorist Wolfgang Caspar Printz as the best German composers in his book “Historische Beschreibung” (1690), they were important in cultivating a distinctly German musical style, and their work would influence generations of composers to come —from J.S. Bach in later Baroque period, to Brahms in the Romantic period, and even to Hugo Distler of the 20th century.

Much of these composers’ music, driven strongly by modal counterpoint but also showing influence of Baroque harmonic progression, are not heard as frequently as they should. Perhaps this is because many other Baroque composers — such as J.S. Bach and Sweelinck — worked around similar time period wrote in a style that is more distinguishable from what is considered the Renaissance period.

Also, the vocal range demanded by these composers from the choir often differs from the standard setup of a four-part choir, especially in requiring more low altos or high tenors.

Eliza’s Toyes’ program will showcase some of their best works, both sacred and secular. Highlights include the most somber setting by Schiedt (below top) of “Miserere mei Deus” for soprano and 5 low voices, and his uplifting setting of Psalm No. 148 in German “Lobet, ihr Himmel den Herren”; the motet by Schein (below bottom) “Ach Herr, ach meiner schone” (a Pavan by Scheidt on YouTube at the bottom), and a very funny song from his 1626 collection “Studentenschmaus”; and selections of Schütz’s rarely heard Italian madrigals, particularly “Vasto Mar” for 8 voices.

Besides musicians from the regular ensemble, special guests Eric Miller (viol) and Lawrence University faculty Kathrine Handford (organ) will be joining in the music making. Also featured in these performances will be a beautiful wooden portative organ by David Moore, and wind instruments on loan from the James Smith Rudolph Collection at Lawrence University.

For more information about the program and Eliza’s Toyes, visit http://toyes.info

Eliza’s Toyes is a Madison-based early music ensemble specialized in performing vocal and wind music from before 1700. Its creative concert programs often feature geographical or narrative themes, partnering with both music and non-music academic fields. Now in its fourth season, Toyes has been performing at least twice a year, in various venues including UW-Madison Memorial Library, the Chazen Museum of Art, and Gates of Heaven.

Musicians for the “The Three Sch’s” include Deb Heilert and Sarah Leuwerke, sopranos; Sandy Erickson, alto/recorder; Peter Gruett, alto/tenor; Jerry Hui, tenor/bass; Mark Werner, baritone; Andrew Aumann, bass; Melanie Kathan, recorder; Theresa Koenig, dulcian/recorder; Doug Towne, lute.

Special guests are Eric Miller, viol, and Kathrine Handford, organ.


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