The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Willy Street Chamber Players end their first summer season with a MUST-HEAR concert of works by Bach and Mendelssohn this Friday night at 6. | July 30, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

The new group The Willy Street Chamber Players (below) — certainly the biggest and most successful music news story of this summer — will end its first summer season with a MUST-HEAR concert on Bach and Mendelssohn this Friday night at 6 p.m.

Willy Street Brahms Sextet

The concert is at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street, which has both a performance space with fine acoustics hall and plenty of free parking.

immanuel lutheran church ext

Immanuel Lutheran interior

Admission is $12 for adults; $8 for students and seniors.

You could hardly ask for a better program, which features two undisputed masterpieces.

The first is the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by Johann Sebastian Bach (below). It is scored without violins but for lower strings and it is irresistible for its melodies and harmonies and especially for its driving energy and rhythm.


The second work is the astonishing Octet -– really a double string quartet –- by Felix Mendelssohn (below) who composed it when he was only 16. It may well be Mendelsohn’s best work. It too is irresistible is its energy and melodies. It is thrilling and one of the quintessential chamber music works of all time! (You can hear the impetuous opening in a YouTube video at the bottom.)


The Ear is going and so should you.

By all accounts, the inaugural season of the Willy Street Chamber Players -– which included everything from classic Handel, Mozart, Brahms and Dvorak to new music by contemporary composers and a noon concert for families – has been a great success.

The fine playing — members also perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra — was justly praised by many, and large audiences turned out.

Here is a link to a review The Ear did of the first concert:

It’s enough to make one hopeful about a second season for the group and to make one impatient to see the programs.

The Ear bets both are already in the works!


  1. The acoustics in Immanual Lutheran are actually much too boomy and muddy for chamber music. The lack of clarity in the sound makes for a frustrating listening experience.

    Comment by Anon — July 31, 2015 @ 4:46 pm

    • Thank you for replying.
      Not where I sit.
      Sit up close and the sound is clear and not to boomy.
      But further back and you may be right.
      Readers and musicians — let’s hear from you!
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — August 1, 2015 @ 7:44 am

  2. Great group of musicians. Can’t wait to hear them this Friday. Fantastic addition to the neighborhood.

    Comment by Cheem — July 30, 2015 @ 1:17 am

  3. The Mendelssohn is really NOT a double string quartet even though it is usually played by two different quartets. (The exception to that is the Emerson vs. Emerson version.) The interaction between the parts is much more varied and intense than one finds in an actual double quartet such as those by Louis Spohr.

    Comment by bratschespeilerin — July 30, 2015 @ 12:06 am

    • Hi and thanks for replying.
      The instrumentation is indeed for four violins, two violas and two cellos.
      That looks pretty much like a double string quartet to me.
      Of course what the composer does with those resources is certainly different than a string quartet simply times two.
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — July 30, 2015 @ 9:15 am

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