The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Madison-based Ancora String Quartet ends its 12th season with a recital this Saturday night of chamber music by Dvorak, Haydn and Shostakovich.

May 2, 2013
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

The critically acclaimed Ancora String Quartet will close its 12th season this coming Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, where the group performs as artists-in-residence.

Members (below, in a photo by Barry Lewis) of the Ancora Quartet are: violinists Leanne Kelso League and Robin Ryan, violist Marika Fischer Hoyt and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Ancora CR Barry Lewis

The Ear has heard and seen the quartet and knows that it performs with conviction and vivacity, often in unusual and intriguing programs.

This time the quartet will perform a program of 18th, 19th and 20th century music in the handsomely woody, crisp and sonically bright Atrium Hall (below in a photo by Zane Williams) rather than the old Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed church.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

Tickets are sold at the door: $15 for general admission; $12 seniors and students; and $6 for children under 12

Here are some remarks by the quartet’s violist spokesperson  Marika Fischer Hoyt, who is also a weekend radio host for Wisconsin Public Radio: “We are closing our 12th season.  We’re pretty serious fans of the Bard in this quartet, and we decided to go with a Shakespearean theme: “Twelfth Season:  “If music be the food of love, play on!”  For the sports fans out there, we’re simply calling this season the Big 12.

“Dodecahedral elements (permutations of 12)  permeate our May recital program, which features selections (Nos. 1, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12) from the 12 “Cypresses” by Antonin Dvorak (below, and at the bottom in a YouTube video, where the Emerson Quartet plays No 3).

Plus, she notes, “Like our Fall 2012 program, this May 2013 program includes exactly 12 movements of music.”

Adds Fischer Hoyt: About the Dvorak, she adds: “We’re very pleased with this program, and feel that it offers variety and balance.  The six Dvorák “Cypresses” are intimate expressions of a young man’s unrequited love, and cover the gamut from tender, wistful longing, to jaunty descriptions of nature, to jealous frustration.  Dvorak played the viola himself, and wrote so well for that instrument. The viola gets the opening melodies in the first two Cypresses that we’re playing, so don’t be late or you’ll miss them!”


“The Quartet in C Major, OP. 20, N. 2, by Franz Josef Haydn (below) will also be performed.

Adds Fischer Hoyt: The Haydn quartet Op. 20 No. 2 is one of the celebrated ‘Sun’ quartets, with a glorious cello melody in the first movement.  The last movement is a quadruple fugue, but it’s not at all daunting; in fact, quite the reverse.  It twinkles along merrily, and Haydn provides it with a whimsical inscription in Latin:  “Laus. Omnip. Deo. Sic fugit amicus amicum,” or “Praise the Lord. Thus one friend flees another friend.”  Haydn had such a great sense of humor!


“And the Quartet No. 12 (which also uses 12-tone techniques) by Dmitri Shostakovich (below) will round out the program.

Adds Fischer Hoyt: “In the last piece on our program, Shostakovich nods to serialism by featuring a 12-tone row (an intentionally atonal collection of 12 pitches), but then thumbs his nose at serialism by setting the row in the tonal key of D-flat major.  This is not conventionally pretty music, but it has a nuanced complexity, an inner integrity, and a through-line of development that rivets the attention from the beginning to the end.  I think when you play or listen to Shostakovich, you need to allow yourself to be transformed, or at least to go on a journey with him, and with us.”

dmitri shostakovich

A champagne reception will conclude the evening.

For more information visit:

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,268 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,374,017 hits
%d bloggers like this: