The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This week offers FREE concerts by the Pro Arte String Quartet on Wednesday night and the Trio Unprepared for piano and percussion on Thursday night

September 26, 2016
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By Jacob Stockinger

Two FREE and appealing but very different concerts are on tap this week at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music:

PRO ARTE QUARTET

On Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the acclaimed Pro Arte Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer) will perform a program that features standard works as well as new music.

Pro Arte Quartet new 2 Rick Langer

The quartet will play the String Quartet in B-flat Major (1790), Op. 64, No. 3, by Franz Joseph Haydn; and the String Quartet No, 10 (1809), Op. 74, called the “Harp” Quartet, by Ludwig van Beethoven.

You can hear the first movement of Beethoven’s “Harp” Quartet, performed by the Alban Berg Quartet, in a YouTube video at the bottom.

Less well is the contemporary work “Fantasies on the Name of Sacher” (2012) by French composer Philippe Hersant.

Here are program notes from Pro Arte cellist Parry Karp (below):

“The Haydn and Hersant are new pieces for the Pro Arte and it has been a great pleasure to learn them.

“The Haydn was written at the time that Haydn’s job as the court composer of the court of Esterhazy had come to an end. It is one of the “Tost” Quartets, named for the Hungarian violinist Johann Tost. Haydn dedicated the quartets to him to thank him for his performances and for helping Haydn get a publisher for the quartets.

Parry Karp

“The next piece on the program is the “Fantasies for String Quartet” by the French composer Philippe Versant (b. 1948, below). Here are the composer’s notes on this piece:

“This piece has been in the works for years. First performed in 2008, the first version for string trio included six fantasies. I added two the following year, then an additional instrument (second violin). This version for string quartet was commissioned for the Cully Classique Festival, where it was premiered in 2012. Finally, for the Grand Prix Lycéen for Composers, I imagined a version for string orchestra, commissioned by Musique Nouvelle en Liberté (2013).

“The initial challenge was to write a series of pieces that were as different as possible, from a basic material that was very narrow. That common material is a short motif of 6 notes, which correspond (in Germanic notation) to the letters of Sacher’s name (with a few twists): S (E-flat) A C H(B) E R(D).

“This motif has already been used by a number of composers (Henri Dutilleux, Pierre Boulez and Benjamin Britten) in their homages to Paul Sacher, the great patron and conductor.

“Joined together by the omnipresence of these six notes, the eight fantasies offer strong contrasts in character and style:the first has a high-pitched, rarefied atmosphere a la Shostakovich; the second has a taunting and obsessional tone; there is a dramatic, tense ambience in the fourth …. Two others showcase the voices of the soloists: viola (lyrical) in the third and the cello (stormy) in the seventh.

“Some quotations pepper the discourse: In the third fantasy an altered version of a passage from Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13, Op. 130, and the sixth combines motifs borrowed from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” and Dmitri Shostakovich. A falsely naive, short children’s song closes the set.

“-P. H.”

The last piece on the program, the String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 74, by Beethoven, was named the “Harp” Quartet by the first publisher of the work. It was so named because of the the unique use of pizzicato in the first movement of the piece.

This string quartet is one of the great masterpieces of the quartet repertoire with a brilliant first movement, a profound slow movement which foreshadows Beethoven’s late period, a brilliant scherzo, and a classical style variation movement as the finale.

philippe-hersant

TRIO UNPREPARED

On Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Trio Unprepared will perform a FREE concert of improvised music.

Here is the blurb from the UW-Madison School of Music’s website:

Drawing from the vast resources of contemporary, jazz, classical and global music, the Trio Unprepared presents an evening of IMPROVISED music for piano and percussion. Ensemble members are Andre Gribou, piano, and Roger Braun and Anthony DiSanza on percussion. (DiSanza teaches at the UW-Madison and is a member of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.)

trio-unprepared-poster

Trio Unprepared has performed globally in extraordinarily diverse musical settings and worked together in various configurations for many years.

This concert — and the subsequent tour of Wisconsin — brings the trio back together for the first time since performing in Switzerland in July 2015.

A master class will follow this concert, from 9 to 10:30 p.m.


Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble performs music by J.S. Bach, Handel, Purcell, Telemann and others this Sunday afternoon at 3. In Sunday night Con Vivo performs music by Prokofiev, Mozart, Bruch, Gershwin and others at the Stoughton Opera House.

February 6, 2015
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REMINDER: The Con Vivo! (music with life) chamber music ensemble (below) invites the public to its debut performance at the Stoughton Opera House on this coming Sunday night. The concert has been rescheduled to this Sunday evening due to the snowstorm last weekend.

Here are the details: Sunday, February 8, 2015, at 7:30 p.m.
Stoughton Opera House
381 E. Main St. Stoughton, WI
(608) 877-4400
Tickets are $20, $10 for an obstructed view and are available at www.stoughtonoperahouse.com

Here is the program:
Sergei Prokofiev: “Overture on Hebrew Themes” for Piano, string quartet and clarinet, Op.34
Max Bruch: “Romance” for Viola and Piano op. 85
Jay Ungar: “Ashokan Farewell” for violin and piano
John Williams – “Air and Simple Gifts” for violin, cello, clarinet and piano (It was performed by violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, clarinetist Anthony McGill and piano Gabriela Montero and others at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.)
George Gershwin – Preludes for solo piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet, KV 581

Here is a link to the original post about the concert:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/classical-music-con-vivo-music-with-life-will-perform-chamber-music-by-mozart-gershwin-prokofiev-bruch-and-others-at-the-stoughton-opera-house-this-sunday-afternoon-before-kickoff/

Con Vivo core musicians

By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will give a concert of baroque chamber music on this coming Sunday afternoon, February 8, at 3 p.m.

Madison Baroque Ensemble

The concert will take place in the historic Gates of Heaven synagogue located in downtown Madison, in James Madison Park at 300 East Gorham Street.

Gates of Heaven

Tickets are at the door only: $20, $10 for students.

For more information, call 238-5126 or info@wisconsinbaroque.org, or you can visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org.

Participating members in the concert – the veteran ensemble uses period instruments and historically informed performance practices — are:

Mimmi Fulmer – soprano

Brett Lipshutz – traverso

Eric Miller – viola da gamba, baroque cello

Consuelo Sañudo – mezzo-soprano

Monica Steger – traverso, harpsichord

Anton TenWolde – baroque cello

Max Yount – harpsichord

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

Here is the program:

Gabriel Bataille – “Sortez soupirs”

Henry Purcell – “Sweeter than roses”

Gabriel Bataille – “Que douce est la violence”

Georg Philipp Telemann – “Die Landlust”

Louis de Caix d’Hervelois – sonata for traverso and continuo

INTERMISSION

Benoît Guillemant – Sonata in D Major, Op. 2 Nr. 6 for two traversos

Johann Sebastian Bach – “Betörte Welt”

Giuseppe Sammartini – Sonata 3 for violoncello and continuo

George Frideric Handel – “Tanti Strali”

 

 


Classical music: Can you name the 20 famous classical musicians who died in 2014? NPR remembers them and The Ear celebrates them with the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms.

January 11, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Last year, classical music lost of a lot of important people -– performers and composers.

For The Ear, three of the most important people were the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado (below top), who was a master of the mainstream operatic and orchestral repertoire; the English conductor Christopher Hogwood (below middle), who also pioneered the performance and recording of early music, Baroque musicClassical era composers and even early Romantic composers — including Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Frideric Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert — on period instruments and with historically informed performance practices; and the Dutch flutist and conductor Frans Bruggen (below bottom), whose career followed a similar trajectory as Hogwood’s.

Claudio Abbado

Christopher Hogwood

Frans Bruggen 1

Those men made us hear music in new, unexpected and exciting ways — the highest achievement that any performer or interpreter can aspire to.

But we also lost highly accomplished and important singers and instrumentalists, including pianists and violinists.

The always outstanding Deceptive Cadence blog on NPR (National Public Radio) recently ran a list of 20 figures who died in 2014, though I am sure there are more.

Below is a link to the NPR story.

When you click on each entry you will get photo and full obituaries, readers’ comments and fine sound samples. So don’t be afraid to leave the NPR page and follow the various links.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2015/01/09/375630332/swan-songs-classical-musicians-we-lost-in-2014

And here is a fitting tribute, the final movement of the German Requiem by Johannes Brahms in which the chorus sings “Blessed are the dead for their works shall live on after them.”

And be sure to use the Comments section of this blog for any additions and tributes you wish to add, perhaps by naming your favorite composer or work they performed or recorded.

 


Classical music: Happy Father’s Day! Music is filled with bad paternal role models and some good ones too. NPR discusses some bad fathers and praises good ones.

June 15, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today, June 15, 2014, is Father’s Day.

Classical music is filled with notable father figures and not all of them are fathers you would want to emulate.

Take the overbearing and ambitious Leopold Mozart (below top), who browbeat and exploited his young son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below bottom).

Leopold Mozart colo

mozart big

And what about Ludwig van Beethoven’s father (below top) who used to come home drunk and threatened his young prodigy son with a beating to force him to practice the piano?

One has to wonder: Did such paternal abuse actually yield positive results on these two towering figures of classical music? Or did Mozart and Beethoven succeed despite their fathers’ bullying. Does an unhappy childhood benefit the art even when it hurts the artist?

beethoven's father BW

On the other hand, maybe some good parenting by Johann Sebastian Bach -– the “old wig” as  his more “modern” Classical-era sons called him –- led to such good achievements by his composer sons Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Johann Christian Bach and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

The same might be said for Baroque composers Alessandro Scarlatti (below top), best known for vocal music, and his son Domenico Scarlatti (below bottom), best known for his keyboard music.

Alessandron Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti muted

There are a lot of fictional fathers to mention on this holiday too.

Especially in opera.

Those fathers were discussed this past week on NPR by Miles Hoffman. Hoffman is himself both the father of two daughters and a professional musician, both a performer and a teacher. His interview, with musical samplings, covered works by Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart, Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi and, as a positive counterpoint, Giacomo Puccini.

Here is a link:

http://www.npr.org/2014/06/13/321544999/just-in-time-for-father-s-day-bad-dads-in-opera

What real or fictional fathers -– good or bad — in classical music come to your mind?

The Ear would like to see the Father’s Day discussion of musical fathers expanded. So share good stories and bad stories about music and paternity — even if it is your own, because there are a lot of fathers who played a positive and encouraging role in music careers and musical stories.

The Ear wants to hear.

 

 

 


Classical music: Founder and conductor Mikko Utevsky discusses the concert of music by Vivaldi, Haydn, Beethoven and Madison composer Jerry Hui this Friday evening by the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) that also features the two Norris brothers, also from Madison, as soloists.

August 7, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

Loyal readers of this blog know well the name of Mikko Utevsky. The young violist this fall will be a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin School of Music, where he studies with Pro Area Quartet violist Sally Chisholm.

Utevsky, who has won awards and impressive reviews for his performances and his work in music education, is the founder and conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (below and at the bottom conducting MAYCO in the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in a YouTube video), which will perform this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall on the UW-Madisob campus. (You can check out his many honors and projects by typing his name into the search engine on this blog site.)

MAYCO playing

Utevsky offered The Ear a short essay about the concert, and I immediately took him up on the offer. After all, he is a fine and perceptive writer who, you may recall, blogged for this post as he was on tour last summer with the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras‘ tour to Vienna, Prague and Budapest.

Here is the essay by Mikko Utevsky (below in a photo by Steve Rankin):

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

By Mikko Utevsky

This Friday evening, the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) will present an eclectic and, I hope, compelling program.

The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Music Hall (below), on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the foot of Bascom Hill. Tickets are $5 at the door; student admission is by donation.

MusicHall2

The concert’s centerpieces are two masterworks of the Classical period, written only a few years apart: Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, and Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat. These two pieces, alongside a fantastic new work from Madison-based composer Jerry Hui that was commissioned for the orchestra, form the justification for the title “New Horizons.” Each work is a first in its own way.

The reasoning behind performing the work by the young Beethoven (below) is obvious: It is the composer’s first and strikingly mature essay into the symphonic form, which he would go on to revolutionize not once but three times in his career (his Third, Fifth and Ninth symphonies).

This relatively early work shows the depth of his debt to his teacher, Haydn, in its wit and formal clarity, though signs of the mature Beethoven are visible in the impetuous “sforzandi,” or sudden dynamic changes, and prominent wind writing.

young beethoven etching in 1804

The work by Haydn himself (below top) on the program is less obviously groundbreaking. It is one of his late works, composed when he was 64 for an old friend, trumpeter Anton Weidinger.

Its novelty lies in the instrument for which it was written: Weidinger (below middle) had developed a chromatically-capable trumpet (below bottom), intended to replace the natural trumpet that had been in common use up to this point. That instrument was incapable of chromatics, and even of stepwise melodies and scales in all but its highest register. Haydn exploits the new instrument to its fullest capacity in the most ingenious ways in this compact but brilliant concerto.

Haydn

anton weidinger

old trumpet anton weidinger haydn  hummel

I am delighted to welcome as our soloist Madison native, former “Final Forte” performer, “From The Top” guest, and two-time National Trumpet Competition winner Ansel Norris (below).

Ansel Norris

Finally, Madison composer Jerry Hui’s tone-poem “Glacies” will receive its world premiere on Friday.

The performance of new works is an important part of MAYCO’s educational mission, and whenever possible we seek out music from local composers for the ensemble. New music challenges us as performers in many ways, introducing us to new styles and daring us to find joy and excitement in the unfamiliar. Working with Jerry is always a pleasure, and I sincerely hope the orchestra and audience enjoy his music as much as I do.

“Glacies’” is a wonderfully colorful work that should be both exciting and accessible to all audiences.

Mikko Utevsky conducts MAYCO Steve Rankin

I’ll let him introduce it. Here are comments by composer Jerry Hui (below):

Mikko, founder of MAYCO, was a former composition student of mine, studying counterpoint and harmony with the support of the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), and I’m glad to compose a piece for his wonderful ensemble.

 “Glacies is a orchestral tone-poem commissioned by Mikko Utevsky for the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO). Mikko, the founder of MAYCO, was a former composition student of mine, studying counterpoint and harmony with the support of the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), and I’m glad to compose a piece for his wonderful ensemble. Glacies is the Latin word for ice, signifying my original inspiration for the work.

“As a Madisonian living near the lake for the past five years, I have become fascinated by the serene mystery of morning mist rising from the large frozen body of water, as well as the first spring day when the ice breaks–which sometimes can become an exciting and violent event known as an icequake.

“Glacies” does not attempt to tell a narrative; rather, I try to convey an impression of it through various sound and color of the orchestra.”

–Jerry Hui

Jerry Hui

Rounding out the program is a short double concerto in B-flat major by Antonio Vivaldi (below), originally for oboe, violin and string orchestra with basso continuo. The oboe part will be played on the trumpet, as recorded by the inimitable Maurice Andre, as an encore for our soloist from the Haydn concerto.

vivaldi

Ansel Norris will be joined by his brother, violnist and MAYCO’s concertmaster Alex Norris, himself a graduate of the UW-Madison School of Music. (Both brothers are pictured below, Alex on the left and Ansel on the right, in a photo by their mother Kathy Esposito.)

Alex and Ansel Norris CR Kathy Esposito

As for MAYCO’s future plans: While a lack of foreknowledge about instrumentation and the dates of competing summer offerings prevents me from providing concert dates or program details for next summer, I can give a few general hints about what is to come in the orchestra’s fourth season:

– Two varied concert programs featuring Classical masterworks and lesser-known gems.

– The world premiere performance of a work written for the orchestra by a local composer.

– The showcasing of local artists as soloists, including both younger performers and established older musicians.

Mikko Utevsky with baton

More specifically, I hope to program the orchestra’s first piano concerto, and have been eyeing the prospect of working with vocalists again since I heard UW-Madison graduate student Shannon Prickett’s marvelous singing of Verdi and Puccini last summer, perhaps in the context of a concert performance of some opera scenes. But neither of those are promises. Stay tuned! (Shannon Prickett is shown below.)

Shannon Prickett soprano

Finally, I am planning to extend some of MAYCO’s offerings into the school year. We will be holding at least one outreach and reading session on a Saturday afternoon, at which current WYSO members will be invited to read some of the Classical repertoire that the orchestra specializes in and learn about the program we offer.

(Editors note: For more background information, read the entry of the UW School of Music’s outstanding blog “Fanfare”:

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/mayco-four-seasons/


Classical music Q&A: Trevor Stephenson discusses the similarities and differences of Mozart and Haydn, whose symphonies and concertos are featured in concerts by the Madison Bach Musicians this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Plus, violist Mikko Utevsky performs Bach and Shostakovich in a free recital on SATURDAY night.

April 18, 2013
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CORRECTION: Early viewers of yesterday’s post read a mistake. I said that conductor-violist Mikko Utevsky’s FREE recital of J.S. Bach and Shostakovich at Capitol Lakes Retirement Home, 333 West Main Street, was tonight, Thursday night, at 7 p.m. — which is WRONG. The recital is on Saturday night at 7 p.m. I apologize for the error and fixed it as soon as I found out.

By Jacob Stockinger

This is exactly the kind of contrast programming that the Ear loves to hear and think there should be much more of.

Mozart and Haydn often get lumped together -– like Bach and Handel, Beethoven and Schubert, Chopin and Schumann, Brahms and Dvorak, Mahler and Bruckner, Ravel and Debussy, Prokofiev and Shostakovich and, in literature, like Camus and Sartre.

But for all the parallels and affinities they share, Haydn and Mozart are in reality very different composers and proponents of Classicism. Personally, I would sum it up by saying: “Haydn is more interesting but Mozart is more beautiful.”

Anyway, I was thrilled to hear that the founder, director and conductor Trevor Stephenson and the Madison Bach Musicians  (below is a core membership) will perform a Mozart-Haydn concert this weekend.

Kangwon KIm with Madison Bach Musicians

Performances will be held in the crisp and acoustically lively Atrium Auditorium of the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive, on Saturday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Free pre-concert talks by Stephenson, who is a Master Explainer, will take place 45 minutes before the concerts.

The alternating symphony and concerto program includes Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with UW bassoonist Marc Vallon, and the Symphony No. 29 in A; and Haydn’s “Symphony No. 45 “Farewell” and his Keyboard Concerto in D major with Stephenson as soloist. For more information, visit: http://www.madisonbachmusicians.org

Admission is $25 at the door, $20 for students and seniors over 65; or $29 and $15, respectively, if bought in advance at Orange Tree imports, Will Street Coop East and West, Farley’s House of Pianos. Ward-Brodt Music Mall and A Room of One’s Own. For ticket information, visit: http://www.madisonbachmusicians.org/tickets.html Cash and checks only are accepted; no credit cards.

Stephenson (below) recently discussed Mozart and Haydn in an email Q&A with The Ear:

Prairie Rhapsody 2011 Trevor Stephenson

Why did you decide on a Mozart-Haydn program for the Madison Bach Musicians’ spring concert?

First off, I really love their music! I think my earliest musical memories of childhood involve listening to LPs of Mozart’s symphonies (particularly the No. 38 in D major, the “Prague” Symphony) and dancing about the room for joy during favorite passages. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in experiencing almost unbounded joy when listening to or playing Mozart (below top).

I always liked Haydn’s music immensely as well, and I find that as the years roll by I seek it out more and more. Particularly as I have become more experienced as a fortepianist and a harpsichordist, Haydn’s music takes on greater depth for me.

So, for MBM, I thought we’d try a concert featuring these two Classical period masters, and see what our baroque period training brings to the table for the music that comes right after the Baroque — the Classical. In a way, we’re trying to see what it feels like to walk into the Classical style through the front door, historically speaking. Instead of trying to approach it as old, what if it is seen as new?

mozart big
Mozart and Haydn are often mentioned together. Can you briefly describe their similarities with examples from your program? What are the major differences between the two Classical era composers, with references to your program? What is the historical or musicological importance of each?

Mozart and Haydn are the two great creative music forces in Europe during the second part of the 18th century. Interestingly enough, though, they both gave C.P.E. Bach a LOT of credit for forging the path to the new style of Classicism). CPE, of course, studied with his famous father, Johann Sebastian, but his writing is so strikingly different from his father’s.

Most notably, CPE is unabashed in using irregular phrase lengths (music that would turn most dancers into pretzels) and highly contrasting, even jarring, affective changes. He is very modern and avant-garde and his music is really Art with a capital A; the plumbing, as it were, is on the outside of the building—and there is no apology. But, it works! carl philipp emanuel bach

Haydn and Mozart both understood that CPE was the declaration of independence for the new style. Both Haydn and Mozart refined the CPE approach; that is, they employed but masked irregular phrase lengths, and, for contrasting emotions, Haydn and Mozart generally are more careful in making preparations, or they simply give the emotional shift more breathing room in the form.

Haydn (below) and Mozart differ from each other in that Haydn is generally more motivic (a technique which will really take off when Beethoven comes along), experimental, wry and folksy; while Mozart is more florid, expansive and just drop-dead gorgeous.

Haydn_3

In many ways, Mozart reaches back to Handel (below) in his consummate sense for the theatrically cathartic moment—whether tragic or joyous. Mozart and Handel both know exactly how to make everyone in the hall cry with tragic empathy or leap for joy–as much as you can while staying in your seat. handel big 3

I think that Haydn’s blood brother really appears in the 20th century as Bela Bartok (below). With a rare combination of staggering intelligence and joyous honesty, both Haydn and Bartok assimilated and then morphed the folk music of their region (Austria-Hungary) into irresistible musical tableaux.

bartok

What would you like to say about the specific works and performers on your program? About the use of period instruments, especially the fortepiano, in the concerto?

On this program, we’ll playing two symphonies and two concertos — one of each from Mozart and Haydn. The orchestral core of all four works is strings, two oboes, and two horns.

The violins, violas, and cellos will be strung with gut and the players will use what are called transitional (or classical) bows. The gut strings are very supple — giving them a naturally sweet sound. Gut strings also speak quite quickly; that is, the moment the bow begins to move a very distinct pitch leaps (as it were) into the room.

The transitional bow is something of a hybrid between the baroque bow (which emphasizes clarity of articulation) and the later modern tourte bow (which emphasizes the strength and evenness of the sustaining style). For the Classical period music there is a premium on articulation (just as in the Baroque) but there is also a hint of the beginning of the chocolaty tone that would later begin to dominate string playing in the 20th century.

The 18th-century fortepiano (below) — which I’ll play in the Haydn Concerto in D Major — weighs in at around 150 pounds, has an entirely wooden frame, narrow gauge wire, and tiny leather-covered hammers. Like the 18th-century string instruments, it speaks very quickly and has tremendous contrast or changes in tonal character between its high and low registers. It is a little bi-polar in its remarkable ability to convey giddy effervescence at one moment and consuming darkness (particularly in the bass) the next. I always think of it as the musical equivalent of a Ferrari — incredible speed and (affective) maneuverability.

Schubert fortepiano Trevor

The internationally recognized bassoonist–and University of Wisconsin School of Music faculty member Marc Vallon (below, holding a modern and a Baroque bassoon in a photo by James Gill) will play the Mozart Bassoon Concerto on this concert; and we are thrilled that he has also agreed to conduct the entire program.

The classical bassoon he’ll be playing actually has a somewhat darker sound than its modern descendent, but like all 18th-century instruments the classical bassoon has a very quick and transparent attack, which facilitates articulations and intricate note groupings which are so important to the classical sensibility.

The classical bassoon also has a much richer low register than its modern counterpart, and correspondingly, the classical bassoon in its high register is more transparent (like a baritone singer in head voice) and less powerful than the modern. All of this in the hands of a master player like Marc will show new musical riches in this masterwork by Mozart.

Marc Vallon 2011 James Gill (baroque & modern)[2]

Finally, I want to say a little bit about Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, known as the “Farewell.” For most of his professional career, Haydn was music director at the Esterhazy court. He and the orchestra performed and lived (away from their families) at the Esterhazy palace (below is a photo by Bridget Fraser of the impressive estate’s facade) for long periods each musical season.

WYSO Tour Esterhazy Palace FRASER

The story goes that in the fall of 1772, Prince Esterhazy had required the musicians to stay at court far longer than anyone had anticipated. To give the prince a subtle musical nudge that the players were very ready for the season to end, so that they could return to their families, Haydn structured the Finale (at bottom in a YouTube video) of this symphony so that the fiery presto suddenly gives way to a sweet, though other-worldly sounding adagio, at first in A major but then moving to the no-man’s-land of F-sharp major (a VERY odd key for the 18th century). The texture gradually thin outs, as one by one, each player finishes their line, blows out their candle, and quietly departs the stage— leaving only two violins in the final measures.

It is an amazing effect—a perfect exit strategy!

And for the concerts this weekend –in the wonderful acoustics of the Atrium auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) at First Unitarian Society — I think we’ll use Haydn’s petition just to ask for intermission.

FUS Atrium, Auditorium Zane Williams

How do you compare Haydn and Mozart?

Do you have favorite symphonies and concertos by each? What are they?

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: Let us now praise French trumpeter Maurice Andre, dead at 78, whose mastery sparked a revival of Baroque and Classical repertoire and helped launch a renaissance in brass.

March 3, 2012
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ALERT and UPDATE: Due to treacherous road conditions, the Wingra Woodwind Quintet concert that was scheduled for Friday night at 8 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall was canceled. However, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet will perform its FREE concert as scheduled tonight at 8 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall.

By Jacob Stockinger

It is not very often that a musician gets a change to change and remake the public’s perception of his instrument and the repertoire for that instrument, even to advance that perception and spark a kind of renaissance that alters music history.

Certain performers come immediately to mind: Wanda Landowska and the harpsichord; Andres Segovia and the guitar; Jean-Pierre Rampal and the flute; Heinz Holliger and the oboe; Jordi Savall and the viola da gamba. There are others.

Ranking high among them is French trumpeter Maurice Andre (below), who died last week week at the age 78. He pioneered a renaissance of great trumpet playing (especially on his trademark piccolo trumpet), and arguably of brass playing in general, and especially helped revive the Baroque and Classical era repertoire for his instrument.

I first got to know Andre’s performances when his version of Fasch’s Trumpet Concerto was on the Musical Heritage Society’s original issue of the Paillard Chamber Orchestra’s version of the bestselling recording of Pachebel’s Canon in D.

But then I heard him in Haydn (at bottom), Hummel, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Purcell and so much more.

From the first, his playing seemed to me filled with joie de vivre, the embodiment of the Biblical injunction to make a joyful noise. It was clear that Maurice Andre loved what he was doing.

Andre reminded me of a classical cross between jazz greats Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, playing with both heat and cool. He  possessed great chops or technique. His playing was sensual but also had clarity, that ice water-like bracing transparency of tone, that I identify with, say, pianist Andras Schiff. To my mind, the fusing of those two qualities made Andre’s playing quintessentially French.

Andre’s playing possessed the force of a great declarative sentence that relies on verbs, not nouns or adjectives. It seemed irresistible and essential, never flowery of puffy.

In its breath control and long phrases, his playing seemed easy and effortless — the mark of a true virtuoso.

He was a hard worker with boundless energy and stamina who often played 180 dates a year.

And he was prolific in the studio. When you look him up at Amazomn.com, you get almost 500 hits.

And he is remembered as an unassuming man who never thought of himself as a star and who never forgot his time as a young coal miner.

Here is a link to some colorful obituaries and appreciations:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/02/27/147497910/virtuoso-trumpeter-maurice-andr-dies-at-78

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/music-obituaries/9109388/Maurice-Andre.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/feb/29/maurice-andre?newsfeed=true

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/maurice-andre-french-master-of-the-classical-trumpet-dies-at-78/2012/03/02/gIQA6nRqnR_story.html


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