The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Wisconsin Public Television taped and will broadcast last weekend’s concert by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the duo-pianists Naughton Twins after January 1.

November 9, 2012
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

If you went to last Sunday afternoon’s performance by the Madison Symphony Orchestra, you heard a well planned and beautifully performed program that featured Zoltan Kodaly’s “Dances of Galanta”; Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, with the Madison-born Naughton Twins (Christina and Michelle, below in a photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco) as soloists; and Franz Schubert’s last Symphony No. 9 “The Great.”

But you also saw some special and unusual things.

You saw that the players and conductor John DeMain (below) were not dressed in their usual attire – nice dresses or pants and suits – for Sunday afternoon concerts. This time, they were in evening wear – black with white tie — and with conductor DeMain in a tails.

You also saw several cameras scattered the hall and you heard from the loudspeakers that audience members had given their implied consent to be filmed by attending.

The reason is that Wisconsin Public Television filmed the concert.

It will air sometime after January 1, 2013, according to MSO officials.

I contacted WPT to find out more details. Why did they decide to do this? Will it be edited to a shorter show or broadcast in it entirety? Did they choose this program because of the local angle to the Naughton Twins, who both studied at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and have gone on to an acclaimed international career?

Here is a Q&A that the Naughton twin sisters did for The Ear:

Unfortunately, I have not yet received an answer.

But MSO marketing director Henry Peters said, with obvious excitement and enthusiasm, that it would be the FIRST TIME EVER that WPT will have broadcast just the MSO. But the event, he added, is a logical extension of the “Final Forte” broadcasts on WPT in the spring, when young teenage instrumentalists — the four finalists  in 2012 are below in a photo by James Gill — compete for prizes by playing a concerto movement with the MSO.

I remember that James Steinbach (below top), the prize-winning program director at Wisconsin Public Television, said that the station had acquired new mobile equipment and planned on covering more local and state arts events. And certainly last summer’s “Jewel Box” concerts series – which taped (below middle) a performance of Couperin, Haydn and Schubert by Madison’s Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society in the Stoughton Opera House (below bottom) –- proved him true to his word.

Anyway, please stayed tuned, so to speak.

As The Ear finds out more, he will share it with you so you can also hear this outstanding concert at home, where you can  record it for future and repeated listening.

In the meantime, you should know that this concert is well worth hearing. The program started with ethnic dances, executed with color and precision, and then moved on to songs (Poulenc loved using tuneful music hall material and pastiches of Mozart), only to finish with ambitious and impressive Schubert.

For their part, the popular Naughton twins (below, Christina and Michelle in another photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco) played two solo encores: the first movement of the “Scaramouche” Suite by Darius Milhaud and the Hungarian Dance No. 18 (for one piano, four-hands) by Brahms. Their playing was virtuosic, precise, lyrical and absolutely first-rate. They turned in a performance that was impressive for more than its local ties.

It was a warm, warm Homecoming for the twin sisters as well as one of this season’s outstanding concerts by the Madison Symphony Orchestra. So The Ear offers some Shout Outs and says: Bravo to the MSO! Bravo to Christina and Michelle Naughton! Bravo to Wisconsin Public Television!

Trust me, this concert is well worth seeing and listening to on TV -– more than once.

And such TV tapings of the MSO should happen more in the future, as should cooperation of all local arts groups and local media.

Or so I think. What do you think?

The Ear wants to hear.

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