The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Is a local Dvorak revival in the making? This Friday night, Christopher Taylor joins the Willy Street Chamber Players to perform the famed Piano Quintet | July 25, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

Is a major local revival of music by Antonin Dvorak (below) in the making?

Many signs point to: Yes!

At the end of the past season, maestro John DeMain of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, which has also performed the Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” announced that he was on board as a fan when he told the audiences about the upcoming season, which features the MSO performing Dvorak’s dramatic Symphony No. 7 in D Minor and the large-scale Requiem.

In recent seasons, we have also seen the Madison Opera stage the opera “Rusalka”; the Middleton Community Orchestra perform the Symphony No. 6; the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet and the Ancora String Quartet perform the miniatures “Cypresses”; the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra play some “Slavonic Dances”; and more.

What’s not to like about Dvorak? He was one of music’s greatest melodists, something that Johannes Brahms envied and a reason why Brahms helped promote his music. And his use of folk music – Czech, Native American and African-American – is captivating as well as multicultural.

Here is a link to more about Dvorak in his Wikipedia entry:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvořák

As audience responses prove, there is so much Dvorak to be fond of.

But one of the greatest works will be performed this Friday night, July 26, at 6 p.m. in the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street.

That is when the Willy Street Chamber Players, in the final concert of their fifth summer series, will perform the famed Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81 (1887). (You can hear the engaging opening movement, played by pianist Evgeny Kissin and the Emerson String Quartet, in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

The Willys will team up with the acclaimed UW-Madison virtuoso pianist and Van Cliburn Competition bronze medalist Christopher Taylor, who is a gifted chamber musician as well as a superb soloist.

Filling out the program are Three Nocturnes (1924) by Ernest Bloch and “Voodoo Dolls” (2008) by Jessie Montgomery.

Admission is $15 with a reception afterwards.

Dvorak, who has never fallen out of favor but who seems to have sparked a new enthusiasm, composed a lot.

In addition to the nine symphonies, the string serenade and the piano quintet, there is a lot of chamber music, including string quartets, piano trios, piano quartets; concertos for the violin, cello and piano; and many miniatures, including the lovely “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” There is also some solo piano music that has largely been neglected.

Do you love Dvorak’s music?

What about it do you especially like?

Do you have a favorite Dvorak work?

Let us know what it is, with a YouTube link if possible, in the Comment section.

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music
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6 Comments »

  1. The Hamel Music Center is opening this fall at UW. That is just a performance space I believe. Will the rehearsal space and offices also be relocated?

    Phil

    >

    Comment by Philip Wissbeck — July 25, 2019 @ 1:10 pm

  2. I have a feeling this growing interest in Dvorak is more than a local phenomenon. I listen to XM Radio and it seems to me they’ve been playing a lot of Dvorak over the past few months. So maybe it’s a bigger trend…

    Comment by Ann Boyer — July 25, 2019 @ 12:40 pm

  3. I should also mention that the Middleton Community Orchestra is performing the New World Symphony on our October 9 concert. In past seasons, we have programmed Symphonies 6 and 8, the Romance, the Cello Concerto, along with Silent Woods and Rondo for solo cello, Carnival and My Home Overtures, and several Slavonic Dances.

    Comment by Steve Kurr — July 25, 2019 @ 9:55 am

  4. Dvořák is a top choice. Besides the ones you mention, 2 of my favorites include the Czech Suite and the Romance for Violin and Orchestra (a reworking of a string quartet movement). A smart and humble man.

    Comment by Steve Kurr — July 25, 2019 @ 9:46 am

  5. Sorry but neither link provided in your story worked for me.

    Here’s one for Dvořák at Wikipedia (his name has accent marks): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton%C3%ADn_Dvo%C5%99%C3%A1k

    Comment by fflambeau — July 25, 2019 @ 2:23 am

  6. Dvorak was a great composer. It’s great to see his music more and more in demand. His music, as you point out, spans geographic areas and extends to opera, chamber music, and symphonies. It is truly beautiful.

    I think he (and Sibelius who wrote an out-of -his -world 5th symphony) are the top two “recent” composers followed by Mahler.

    Interestingly Mahler and Sibelius disliked each other’s music. Also fascinating: Leonard Bernstein, who was considered a great Mahler conductor, was even better with Sibelius.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 25, 2019 @ 2:08 am


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