The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: UW pianist Christopher Taylor gets raves for his performances of Olivier Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards” in Milwaukee and New York City. | December 15, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Piano virtuoso Christopher Taylor (below) was educated at Harvard, where he graduated with top honors in theoretical math; studied with Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music; and won a bronze medal at the 1991 Van Cliburn Competition. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music for the past decade, and normally gets rave reviews whenever performs in Madison.

ChristopherTaylorNoCredit

Taylor’s local highlights includes performing the cycle of 32 Beethoven sonatas plus concertos with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, chamber music with other UW faculty members and the Pro Arte String Quartet (below, with Taylor, performing the world premiere of William Bolcom’s Piano Quintet No. 2 last spring), and his annual solo recitals.

PAQ and Christopher Taylor Bolcom Piano Quintet 2

Still, Madisonians don’t always appreciate the degree to which local talent is also appreciated elsewhere in the country and the world.

Take this past week. Taylor, known for his interpretations of such modern and contemporary composers as Olivier Messiaen (below), Gyorgy Ligeti and Derek Bermel, received raves first in Milwaukee and then in New York City – at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ Medieval Sculpture Gallery — for his performances of Olivier Messiaen’s epic and technically demanding sequence of “Vingt Regards sur L’enfant Jesus” (“Twenty Meditations on the Infant Jesus,” an impressive specialty of Taylor.

Olivier Messiaen#1#

Here is an advance conversation with Taylor on WUWM, Milwaukee’s public radio station:

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/lake_effect/lake_effect_segment.php?segmentid=9932

Then here is a review of the performance in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/arts/messiaen-piano-piece-is-stunning-at-st-pauls-uv7u0go-182669941.html

And here is a review by former Milwaukee journalist, reviewer Tom Strini, who now has a terrific Milwaukee-based blog for Third Coast Digest:

http://thirdcoastdigest.com/2012/12/piano-arts-christopher-taylors-holy-brainy-messiaen/

Tom Strini

And here is the review of Taylor’s performance in the Metropolitan Museum’s Medieval Sculpture Hall (below in a photo for The New York Times by Hiroyuki Ito) by critic Vivien Schweitzer that appeared in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/arts/music/messiaens-vingt-regards-sur-lenfant-jesus-at-met-museum.html?_r=0

Christopher Taylor at the tht Med Sculture Hall Hiroyuki Ito NY TImes article

Finally, here is the posting that appeared on this blog last week about the out-of-town performances by Christopher “Kit” Taylor”:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/classical-music-acclaimed-van-cliburn-compeititon-laureate-uw-madison-pianist-christopher-taylor-performs-messiaens-epic-twenty-looks-at-the-infant-jesus-in-milwaukee-on-f/

One final word: We will get to hear Taylor in recital for FREE on Thursday, March 14, at 7:30 in Mills Hall. No word yet on the program. But it could well be the Olivier Messiaen, which he has performed excerpts from here, but never the complete and lengthy work in its entirety.

Taking somebody to that performance sure would make a nice holiday gift, along with one of his recordings – say, the “Transcendental” Etudes by Franz Liszt or the Etudes by William Bolcom – that are available from the on-line CD store at the UW School of Music: http://apps.music.wisc.edu/cdstore/cdGrid.asp?categoryID=14


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