The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The new Grammy nominations can serve as a holiday gift guide.

December 11, 2015
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Each year at holiday time, The Ear offers a series of roundups of the best recordings and classical music gifts of the past year. The idea is to use them as holiday gift guides.

Today is Grammy Day.

grammy award BIG

So far, The Ear has listed choices made by the BBC Music Magazine and the Telegraph newspaper:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/classical-music-here-are-the-best-classical-music-cds-of-2015-according-to-the-bbc-music-magazine-and-the-telegraph-newspaper/

And another roundup of book and videos as well as CDs by critics for The New York Times:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/classical-music-its-small-business-saturday-here-are-classical-music-gift-suggestions-from-the-critics-for-the-new-york-times/

Now he adds the 58th annual Grammy nominations of 2016 that were announced this past Monday. The winners will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 15, on CBS television network. The telecast will be live and feature live performances.

The Ear likes to see if he can predict the winners. Outguessing the industry can be a fun, if frustrating, game to play.

He also notices two items of local interest.

The late Twin Cities composer Stephen Paulus, whose works were often commissioned and premiered in Madison by the Festival Choir of Madison and groups at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, has been nominated for several work.

stephen paulus

In addition, producer Judith Sherman, who has several Grammys to her credit, is nominated again. She is also the producer of the two recordings of the centennial commissions by the Pro Arte Quartet.

Judith Sherman Grammy 2012

Here are the 58th annual Grammy nominees for Classical Music:

BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM, CLASSICAL

Ask Your Mama: Leslie Ann Jones, John Kilgore, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum & Justin Merrill, engineers; Patricia Sullivan, mastering engineer (George Manahan & San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) Label: Avie Records

Dutilleux: Métaboles; L’Arbre Des Songes; Symphony No. 2, ‘Le Double’: Dmitriy Lipay, engineer; Alexander Lipay, mastering engineer (Ludovic Morlot, Augustin Hadelich & Seattle Symphony) Label: Seattle Symphony Media

Monteverdi: Il Ritorno D’Ulisse In Patria: Robert Friedrich, engineer; Michael Bishop, mastering engineer (Martin Pearlman, Jennifer Rivera, Fernando Guimarães & Boston Baroque) Label: Linn Records

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil: Beyong Joon Hwang & John Newton, engineers; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Charles Bruffy, Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale) Label: Chandos

Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3, ‘Organ’: Keith O. Johnson and Sean Royce Martin, engineers; Keith O. Johnson, mastering engineer (Michael Stern and Kansas City Symphony) Label: Reference Recording

Ask Your Mama CD Cover

PRODUCER OF THE YEAR, CLASSICAL

Blanton Alspaugh: • Hill: Symphony No. 4; Concertino Nos. 1 & 2; Divertimento (Peter Bay, Anton Nel & Austin Symphony Orchestra) • Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil (Charles Bruffy, Phoenix Chorale & Kansas City Chorale) • Sacred Songs Of Life & Love (Brian A. Schmidt & South Dakota Chorale) • Spirit Of The American Range (Carlos Kalmar & The Oregon Symphony) • Tower: Violin Concerto; Stroke; Chamber Dance (Giancarlo Guerrero, Cho-Liang Lin & Nashville Symphony)

Manfred Eicher: • Franz Schubert (András Schiff) • Galina Ustvolskaya (Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Markus Hinterhäuser & Reto Bieri) • Moore: Dances & Canons (Saskia Lankhoorn) • Rihm: Et Lux (Paul Van Nevel, Minguet Quartet & Huelgas Ensemble) • Visions Fugitives (Anna Gourari)

Marina A. Ledin, Victor Ledin: • Dances For Piano & Orchestra (Joel Fan, Christophe Chagnard & Northwest Sinfonietta) • Tempo Do Brasil (Marc Regnier) • Woman At The New Piano (Nadia Shpachenko)

Dan Merceruio: • Chapí: String Quartets 1 & 2 (Cuarteto Latinoamericano) • From Whence We Came (Ensemble Galilei) • Gregson: Touch (Peter Gregson) • In The Light Of Air – ICE Performs Anna Thorvaldsdottir (International Contemporary Ensemble) • Schumann (Ying Quartet) • Scrapyard Exotica (Del Sol String Quartet) • Stravinsky: Petrushka (Richard Scerbo & Inscape Chamber Orchestra) • What Artemisia Heard (El Mundo) • ZOFO Plays Terry Riley (ZOFO)

Judith Sherman: • Ask Your Mama (George Manahan & San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) • Fields: Double Cluster; Space Sciences (Jan Kučera, Gloria Chuang & Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra) • Liaisons – Re-Imagining Sondheim From The Piano (Anthony de Mare) • Montage – Great Film Composers & The Piano (Gloria Cheng) • Multitude, Solitude (Momenta Quartet) • Of Color Braided All Desire – Music Of Eric Moe (Christine Brandes, Brentano String Quartet, Dominic Donato, Jessica Meyer, Karen Ouzounian, Manhattan String Quartet & Talujon) • Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (Ursula Oppens) • Sirota: Parting The Veil – Works For Violin & Piano (David Friend, Hyeyung Julie Yoon, Laurie Carney & Soyeon Kate Lee) • Turina: Chamber Music For Strings & Piano (Lincoln Trio

Manfred Eicher

BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE

Bruckner: Symphony No. 4: Manfred Honeck, conductor (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) Label: Reference Recordings

Dutilleux: Métaboles; L’Arbre Des Songes; Symphony No. 2, ‘Le Double’: Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony) Label: Seattle Symphony Media

Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow – Symphony No. 10: Andris Nelsons, conductor (Boston Symphony Orchestra) Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Spirit Of The American Range: Carlos Kalmar, conductor (The Oregon Symphony) Label: Pentatone

Zhou Long and Chen Yi: Symphony ‘Humen 1839’: Darrell Ang, conductor (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) Label: Naxos

nelsons-shostakovich

BEST OPERA RECORDING

Janáček: Jenůfa: Donald Runnicles, conductor; Will Hartmann, Michaela Kaune & Jennifer Larmore; Magdalena Herbst, producer (Orchestra Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin; Chorus Of The Deutsche Oper Berlin) Label: Arthaus

Monteverdi: Il Ritorno D’Ulisse In Patria: Martin Pearlman, conductor; Fernando Guimarães & Jennifer Rivera; Thomas C. Moore, producer (Boston Baroque) Label: Linn Records

Mozart: Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail: Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Diana Damrau, Paul Schweinester & Rolando Villazón; Sid McLauchlan, producer (Chamber Orchestra Of Europe) Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Ravel: L’Enfant Et Les Sortilèges; Shéhérazade: Seiji Ozawa, conductor; Isabel Leonard; Dominic Fyfe, producer (Saito Kinen Orchestra; SKF Matsumoto Chorus & SKF Matsumoto Children’s Chorus) Label: Decca

Steffani: Niobe, Regina Di Tebe: Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs, conductors; Karina Gauvin & Philippe Jaroussky; Renate Wolter-Seevers, producer (Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra) Label: Erato

ozawa ravel

BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis: Bernard Haitink, conductor; Peter Dijkstra, chorus master (Anton Barachovsky, Genia Kühmeier, Elisabeth Kulman, Hanno Müller-Brachmann & Mark Padmore; Symphonieorchester Des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Chor Des Bayerischen Rundfunks) Label: BR Klassik

Monteverdi: Vespers Of 1610: Harry Christophers, conductor (Jeremy Budd, Grace Davidson, Ben Davies, Mark Dobell, Eamonn Dougan & Charlotte Mobbs; The Sixteen) Label: Coro

Pablo Neruda – The Poet Sings: Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (James K. Bass, Laura Mercado-Wright, Eric Neuville & Lauren Snouffer; Faith DeBow & Stephen Redfield; Conspirare) Label: Harmonia Mundi

Paulus: Far In The Heavens: Eric Holtan, conductor (Sara Fraker, Matthew Goinz, Thea Lobo, Owen McIntosh, Kathryn Mueller & Christine Vivona; True Concord Orchestra; True Concord Voices) Label: Reference Recordings

Rachmaninoff: All-Night Vigil: Charles Bruffy, conductor (Paul Davidson, Frank Fleschner, Toby Vaughn Kidd, Bryan Pinkall, Julia Scozzafava, Bryan Taylor & Joseph Warner; Kansas City Chorale & Phoenix Chorale) Label: Chandos

paulus far in the heavens

BEST CHAMBER MUSIC/SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE

Brahms: The Piano Trios: Tanja Tetzlaff, Christian Tetzlaff & Lars Vogt. Label: Ondine

Filament: Eighth Blackbird. Label: Cedille Records

Flaherty: Airdancing For Toy Piano, Piano & Electronics: Nadia Shpachenko & Genevieve Feiwen Lee. Track from: Woman At The New Piano. Label: Reference Recordings

Render: Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth. Label: New Amsterdam Records

Shostakovich: Piano Quintet & String Quartet No. 2: Takács Quartet & Marc-André Hamelin. Label: Hyperion

Hamelin Takacs Shostakovich quintet

BEST CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTAL SOLO

Dutilleux: Violin Concerto, L’Arbre Des Songes: Augustin Hadelich; Ludovic Morlot, conductor (Seattle Symphony) Track from: Dutilleux: Métaboles; L’Arbre Des Songes; Symphony No. 2, ‘Le Double’. Label: Seattle Symphony Media

Grieg & Moszkowski: Piano Concertos: Joseph Moog; Nicholas Milton, conductor (Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern). Label: Onyx Classics

Mozart: Keyboard Music, Vol. 7: Kristian Bezuidenhout. Label: Harmonia Mundi

 Rachmaninov Variations: Daniil Trifonov (The Philadelphia Orchestra) Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated! Ursula Oppens (Jerome Lowenthal). Label: Cedille Records

trifonov rachmaninov

BEST CLASSICAL SOLO VOCAL ALBUM

Beethoven: An Die Ferne Geliebte; Haydn: English Songs; Mozart: Masonic Cantata: Mark Padmore; Kristian Bezuidenhout, accompanist. Label: Harmonia Mundi

Joyce & Tony – Live From Wigmore Hall: Joyce DiDonato; Antonio Pappano, accompanist. Label: Erato

Nessun Dorma – The Puccini Album. Jonas Kaufmann; Antonio Pappano, conductor (Kristīne Opolais, Antonio Pirozzi & Massimo Simeoli; Coro Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia; Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale Di Santa Cecilia) Label: Sony Classical

Rouse: Seeing; Kabir Padavali: Talise Trevigne; David Alan Miller, conductor (Orion Weiss; Albany Symphony) Label: Naxos

St. Petersburg: Cecilia Bartoli; Diego Fasolis, conductor (I Barocchisti). Label: Decca

jonas kauffmann puccini

BEST CLASSICAL COMPENDIUM

As Dreams Fall Apart – The Golden Age Of Jewish Stage And Film Music (1925-1955): New Budapest Orpheum Society; Jim Ginsburg, producer. Label: Cedille Records

Ask Your Mama: George Manahan, conductor; Judith Sherman, producer. Label: Avie Records

Handel: L’Allegro, Il Penseroso Ed Il Moderato, 1740: Paul McCreesh, conductor; Nicholas Parker, producer. Label: Signum Classics

Paulus: Three Places Of Enlightenment; Veil Of Tears & Grand Concerto: Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Tim Handley, producer. Label: Naxos

Woman At The New Piano: Nadia Shpachenko; Marina A. Ledin & Victor Ledin, producers. Label: Reference Recordings

Paulus Three place of Enlightenment

BEST CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL COMPOSITION

Barry: The Importance Of Being Earnest: Gerald Barry, composer (Thomas Adès, Barbara Hannigan, Katalin Károlyi, Hilary Summers, Peter Tantsits & Birmingham Contemporary Music Group) Label: NMC Recordings

Norman: Play: Andrew Norman, composer (Gil Rose & Boston Modern Orchestra Project) Track from: Norman: Play. Label: BMOP/Sound

Paulus: Prayers & Remembrances: Stephen Paulus, composer (Eric Holtan, True Concord Voices & Orchestra). Track from: Paulus: Far In The Heavens. Label: Reference Recordings

Tower: Stroke: Joan Tower, composer (Giancarlo Guerrero, Cho-Liang Lin & Nashville Symphony). Track from: Tower: Violin Concerto; Stroke; Chamber Dance. Label: Naxos

Wolfe: Anthracite Fields: Julia Wolfe, composer (Julian Wachner, The Choir Of Trinity Wall Street & Bang On A Can All-Stars) Label: Cantaloupe Music. (Note: You can hear a haunting part of the work that won a Pulitzer Prize in the YouTube video below.)

Julia Wolfe Anthracite Fields

 


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Classical music: The Ear praises British pianist Imogen Cooper and suggests you get to know her playing and recordings, including a debut on Chandos Records with music by Brahms and Schumann. Plus, check in on Day 9 of WYSO’s tour to Argentina.

August 1, 2014
6 Comments

ALERT: The Youth Orchestra, under the baton of University of Wisconsin-Madison conductor James Smith (below) and belonging to the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), is into Day 9 of its 10-day tour to Argentina. Here is a link to the live real-time blog about the tour:

wysotour2014.blogspot.com

WYSO Youth  Orchestra

By Jacob Stockinger

There are a lot of talented women pianists playing out there right now.

Names that get mentioned frequently are usually the younger ones, the sexier and more glamorous and, therefore, more salable ones.

The glamorous, gifted and Grammy-nominated Yuja Wang –- she of the micro-skirts and stiletto heels and fabulously fast fingers — is right at the top of the heap.

yuja wang dress times 3

But then there is Van Cliburn Competition laureate Joyce Yang (below), Khatia Buniatishvili and Lola Astanova, all of whom draw headlines and turn in memorable performances. And there are many others I am sure I am leaving out.

Joyce Yang

But today The Ear wants to sing the praises of a mature woman and a seasoned musician who deserves far more public attention than she gets.

Why? Because she is simply one of the best pianists around.

I am talking about the Englishwoman Imogen Cooper (below).

Imogen Cooper

Cooper, who turns 65 on August 28, has been on the concert scene a long time. I first got to know her through her superb 3-volume set of late Schubert (sonatas and impromptus) on the Avie label. I have also heard a live recital of Ludwig Van Beethoven (Sonata Op. 101),  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Sonata in A Minor) and Maurice Ravel (“Miroirs” or Mirrors) and she did on the Wigmore Hall Live series, and it is nothing short of miraculous.

I have not heard her critically acclaimed art song or lieder recitals with Wolfgang Holzmair or her recordings of Mozart piano concertos. But I hope to do so soon. And I would like to hear her in music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Domenico Scarlatti, Franz Joseph Haydn and Frederic Chopin.

But recently she also made her debut on Chandos records with a solo recital I have listened to over and over again, always with great pleasure and, since I am an avid amateur pianist, great envy. The Ear would sure like to hear her perform live in Madison.

I would say that The New York Times critic senior Anthony Tommasini got right to the heart of Cooper’s magisterial playing when, in his review of a live performance, he emphasized “virtuosity without dazzle” and talked about how her sensitive performances of Franz Joseph Haydn, Robert SchumannFranz Schubert and Thomas Ades were more thoughtfully impressive than performances of more overtly flashy and superficially difficult works by, say, Franz Liszt.

Here is a link to Tommasini’s review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/11/arts/music/11coop.html?_r=0

The new CD, which has terrific sonic engineering, includes the seven “Fantasy Pieces” and the “Kreisleriana” of Robert Schumann as well as the too rarely heard piano version of the Theme and Variations from the String Sextet No. 1 by Johannes Brahms. (You can hear a mesmerizing live performance of the Brahms work at Hamline University in Minneapolis in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Imogen Cooper Chandos CD1 cover

Cooper studied at the Paris Conservatory and then with Alfred Brendel, with whom she partnered on a recording of Mozart dual concertos, and the depth of her preparation shows.

Cooper possesses beautiful tone, brilliant technique and a keen musical mind that creates beautifully songful phrases and, at the same time, makes penetrating sense of the music.

I have tried to find out what her next release will be –- and when it will appear –- but to no avail. (Below, in a photo by Jennifer Taylor of The New York Times, Cooper is seen playing her recital at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in New York City.)

imogen cooper at the piano zankel

Here is a link to her website:

http://www.imogen-cooper.com

It is a great website to visit.

It has a lot of video and audio samples of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Janacek and Chopin. It has a lot of photos, although curiously none at the piano. It has lots of interviews and reviews. It includes her favorite historic recordings by other pianists and musicians. It has a biography and a list of appearances.

Read it and you will be impressed.

How does a talent like Cooper’s fly under the radar and remain relatively unknown? That is one of the mysteries of marketing. But clearly youth sells in Youth Culture.

That said, you should listen to this debut album and follow her career.

Are there any other Imogen Cooper fans out there?

What recordings of hers do you prefer?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: The Mostly Mozart Festival opens Wednesday night in New York City’s Lincoln Center with great music by Beethoven and Mozart and with changes that add new energy and vitality. But will PBS refuse to broadcast it?

July 30, 2013
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

I guess this summer The Ear will be hearing and especially SEEING a lot less Mozart.

Along with less Beethoven.

Here’s the reason: As far as I can tell, this summer PBS will NOT broadcast the opening of the popular annual summer Mostly Mozart Festival from Lincoln Center in New York City.

It is especially unfortunate to The Ear because this year’s opening night program on this Wednesday, tomorrow, features two of his favorite Beethoven works and a favorite pianist: the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, with French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (below top, in a photo by Paul Mitchell); and the Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92, with the festival orchestra under its music director since 2002 Louis Langree (below bottom).

That same night, Bavouzet — an up-and-coming artist hghly acclaimed for his recordings of Franz Josef Haydn, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel –will perform Book 2 of Debussy‘s Preludes in the Kaplan Penthouse. (You can hear Bavouzet, who records on the Chandos Records, perform Debussy’s “Reflections in Water” in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Jean-Efflam Bavouzet / Chandos Records

Louis Langree Mostly Mozart OrchestraNYT Hiroyuki Ito

In addition, mezzo-soprano Alice Coote (below) will sing two arias by Mozart: :”Ch’io me scorda di te” and “Parto, parto ma ben mia” from the opera “La Clemenza di Tito.”

Alice Coote

Perhaps I am wrong about not being broadcast. I hope so, because it seems exactly the kind of high quality, non-commercial event that public broadcasting was originally started for. In addition, the openings that used to be broadcast on PBS’ “Live From Lincoln Center” were always enjoyable, an artistic tie that bound many of us together for a couple of hours.

pbs logo in black

I mean, I have had my fill of PBS emphasizing Britty comedies and crime drama — I like them, but there is a limit — and I want to know more about the cultural scene in America that major commercial and network broadcasters usually ignore.

Here are links to the Mostly Mozart festival’s main website where you can find listings of artists, events and programs:

http://www.mostlymozart.org

http://aboutlincolncenter.org/programs/program-mostly-mozart

http://aboutlincolncenter.org/events-and-tickets

Maybe you can at least listen to it as it is streamed via the Internet. I look more into it and let you know.

But perhaps the real stars of this year’s festival are the changes that have been made to add energy and revitalize the festival that once seemed dangerously on the decline.

That is exactly the story that New York Times senior music critic Anthony Tommasini (below) wrote about in “Mostly Mozart, Mostly Improved” that appeared on Sunday.

tommasini-190

The changes include using smaller spaces, including new music, staging an opera, starting a new series and changing the old formula of composers to be performed.

Here is a link to Tommasini’s story:

http://nyti.ms/15lg95u

Should PBS broadcast the opening concert – and maybe more – of the Mostly Mozart Festival?

What lessons should local classical music presenters draw from the Mostly Mozart Festival and how it has been restructured and revamped?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music Q&A: Violinist Tasmin Little discusses her latest projects and extols the virtues of music by Gerald Finzi and Sergei Prokofiev, which she will perform this Friday night with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

February 20, 2013
3 Comments

ALERT: This Friday at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the duo Sole Nero (below) of pianist Jessica Johnson and percussionist Anthony Di Sanza, will perform on the UW-Madison Faculty Concert Series. The duo will perform works by John Luther Adams, Philippe Hurel, UW composers Joseph Koykkar, Evan Hause and UW composer Les Thimmig. Guest artists will include video artist Daniel Zajicek and clarinetist Les Thimmig.

sole nero Jessica Johnson piano and Anthony Di Sanza percussion

By Jacob Stockinger

The concert this Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Overture Center’s Capitol Theater is pure Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below).

WCO lobby

Which is to say that it is pure Andrew Sewell.

Sewell (below) is the longtime music director and conductor of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. He has become known over the past 12 seasons for his uncanny ability to mix tried-and-true classics with relatively obscure works and composers.

andrewsewell

This Friday’s night’s Masterworks concert is no exception. The theme is “Pastoral Gems” and it spotlights the young, critically acclaimed British violinist Tasmin Little (below in a photo by Melanie Winning).

Tasmin Little 3 Melanie Winning 

Tickets are $15-$65. Call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141 or visit the orchestra’s website at  www.wcoconcerts.org for more information and purchasing tickets on-line.

The program features two well-known works: J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, with the familiar Air on a G String movement; and Sergei Prokofiev’s sublime Violin Concerto No. 2.

But wedged in between come rarely performed works: “Introit” for violin and orchestra, Op. 6, by Gerald Finzi, a mid-20th century British composer for whom Sewell has such an affinity; and the rarely heard Symphony No. 2, by the French 19th-century composer of the very well-known opera “Faust.”

Tasmin Little (below) recently agreed to an email Q&A with The Ear:

Tasmin Little

What are your current and future plans in terms of concertizing, recordings and other major projects, especially for the English and contemporary works that seem to be a specialty of yours?

This year will be a lovely year for projects – two new CDs will be released imminently, one with Witold Lutoslawski’s Partita and Chain 2 for violin and orchestra, and later in the spring, my recording of the Violin Concerto by Benjamin Britten – his centennial is this year — will be released, both on Chandos Records.

I am also releasing a CD of British chamber music repertoire with Piers Lane later in the year – beautiful works by Britten (his early Suite), William Walton’s Sonata and the wonderful but totally unknown second violin sonata of Howard Ferguson (below bottom).

Benjamin Britten

Howard Ferguson 1

What can you tell us about the rarely heard  “Introit” by Gerald Finzi (below) and what you would like audiences to listen for?

It is a very beautiful and peaceful work, in some ways it feels similar to Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending” in that it is a work which follows a pastoral line and exudes heavenly tranquility. There isn’t anything in particular that I would suggest an audience to listen for – more, that I hope they will enjoy approximately 10 minutes of beautiful calm and bliss!

Gerald Finzi 1

What would you like to say about the more well–known Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2? Are there certain things you would like listeners especially to listen for? Are there other works by Prokofiev (below) or other composers you would compare it to?

Regarding Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, I am sure that this will be familiar to many members of the audience, so I will talk about what I enjoy about the piece.

The first movement is a capricious mix of darkness and light – one moment, the music is dark and sinister and then, without warning, the mood can lighten to frothy bubbliness!

The second movement has such a glorious and romantic theme and yet the music is quite quirky, with the pizzicato accompaniment and an occasional woodwind interjection.  The middle section feels almost lighthearted but it isn’t long before the first idea returns, more embellished and fulsome.

The final movement is hilarious!  I love the wit and the rustic earthiness.  Prokofiev must have had a wonderful sense of humor.

Serge Prokofiev

How do you think the two violin words fit into the theme of “Pastoral Gems” with Bach’s Suite No. 3 and Gounod’s Symphony No. 2?

I must confess to being unfamiliar with the symphony by Gounod (below) – I’ll look forward to getting to know it during my visit!  Obviously the “Pastoral Gems” bit refers to the Finzi, and I look forward to being educated in the similarities between the Gounod and Prokofiev.

Charles Gounod

Do you have an impression of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Madison audiences and the classical music scene in Madison, and what are they?

As this will be my very first visit to Madison, it’s hard to form an impression. I also like to keep an open mind about things, rather than try to build up an expectation or opinion that might be wrong.  However, I can see that the artistic planning of the orchestra is wonderfully rich and varied – so I’m guessing that this means that the audiences are not frightened of experiencing something new.  I like that!

When you were young, was there for you an Aha! Moment – perhaps a certain piece or performer – when you knew you wanted to become a professional musician and a violinist?

I remember vividly dancing to a recording of Itzhak Perlman playing Sarasate’s “Carmen Fantasy” and thinking how brilliant it would be, to be able to play such a piece of music. I also liked Locatelli’s violin concertos, so those are probably the moments when I realized I would like to learn the violin. (You can hear her most popular YouTube video at the bottom.)

tasmin little by melanie winning

Do you have your ideas about how music education should be done today and about how to attract younger audiences?

Through my “Naked Violin” project (which still exists as a free download of music on my website), I have attracted a great deal of audiences of all ages and I feel quite proud about that.  The project also takes music into the community, into hospitals, schools, prisons and other areas of the community where live music is not regularly available.

I feel that, if you can touch just one or two people by doing this, it is hugely worthwhile.  The joy, and sometimes the tears, of emotional release are what music is all about.

For more information visit my website at:

http://www.tasminlittle.com


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