The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Works by Haydn and Mozart open the 2015 Token Creek Festival this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon | August 18, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

The Token Creek Festival will open its 26th season this coming weekend with a recital of works by Franz Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Festival co-founders and co-artistic directors John and Rose Mary Harbison (below top) – who will play the piano and the violin, respectively — explore sonatas and, with local cellist Karl Lavine (below bottom), who is principal cello of both the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra — piano trios of these celebrated composers.

JohnHarbisonatpiano

RosemaryHarbison

Karl Lavine, principal cello of WCO

Performances are this coming Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.

The program includes Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, K 526 (1787); Hadyn’s Piano Trio in A major (1785); Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in E minor, K. 304 (1778, heard in a YouTube video at the bottom); Haydn’s Piano Trio in E-flat (1795), and others works to be announced.

Tickets are $30, $10 for students. Tickets can be obtained by using the order form at the Token Creek website www.tokencreekfestival.org; by phone at (608) 241-2525; by email at info@tokencreekfestival.org,; and by U.S. mail at P.O. Box 5201, Madison WI, 53705.

Performances take place at the Festival Barn (below), on Highway 19 near the hamlet of Token Creek (10 minutes north of Madison) with ample parking available. The venue, indoors and air-conditioned, is invitingly small—early reservations are recommended.

TokenCreekbarn interior

According to a press release from the Token Creek Festival:

There are not many instances in the history of concert music of the best composers becoming close friends. Haydn (below left) and Mozart (below right) formed what is still the most significant and nourishing bond between colleagues that we can find in the annals of symphonic music.

Haydn (left) and Mozart (right)

They had some advantages: they were of different generations and Haydn, the older of the pair, managed to treat the younger with generosity, never pulling rank or promoting his seniority.

They had very different gifts: Mozart was an actor, a free spender, a swaggerer; Haydn was a croupier, a dealer of the cards, a fortune-teller. They learned and borrowed from each other, both aware of the other’s fields of domination: Mozart in opera and the concerto; Haydn in the string quartet, the piano trio and the symphony.

At the level at which both men composed, it is futile to label one of them as better at what they did.

But their modern reputations are another story.

Mozart is here; Haydn is not.

Haydn (below) officially has been consigned to the historical performance movement, where he has not received the celebrated status he deserves. Some string quartets, aware when they play his pieces of a quality and variety hardly found in any later music, keep him as an opener for their concerts.

Haydn

But the real issue is this: Mozart (below) brings a sense of theater to virtually every piece he writes. The pose, the gesture, the entrance and exit, the initial announcing speech, these rhyme with our times in a very present way.

Haydn’s philosophical and often droll wisdom and his brilliant commentary on music’s syntax, on the markers of musical form, require acute and engrossed listeners for whom these are dramatic.

Mozart c 1780 detail of portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

This is why the lovers of Haydn’s music cherish him, and miss him so much, and why the Token Creek Festival returns to him often — on this occasion pairing him with his old quartet-playing partner whose appreciation for his every sly twist in the game was uniquely sharp.

The Token Creek Festival has been called a gem, a treasure nestled in the heart of Wisconsin cornfields, a late-summer fixture just outside of Madison. (Below is a photo by Jess Anderson.)

Token Creek Land 1 Jess Anderson

The Festival has become known for its artistic excellence, diverse and imaginative programming, a deep engagement with the audience, and a surprising, enchanting and intimate performance venue in a rustic but comfortably refurbished barn. Now in its 26th season, the 2015 Festival offers eight events in the week August 22-30.

TokenCreekentrance

More information about the Token Creek Festival, which runs through Aug. 30, and about all events plus directions for driving can be found at the website, www.tokencreekfestival.org or by calling (608) 241-2525.

 

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