The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is Memorial Day – a good time to remember the civilian dead as well as the military dead. The Ear likes Ravel’s “Le Tombeau de Couperin.” What music would you listen to to mark the holiday?

May 27, 2019
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Memorial Day, 2019, when the nation honors the men and women who died in military service. The Ear would like to see much more attention and remembrance paid to the huge number of civilians — much higher than military personnel and soldiers — who have died in wars and military service, whose lives weren’t given but taken.

In fact, why not establish and celebrate a separate holiday to honor civilian deaths in war? Perhaps it would help to know the detailed history and background of the holiday, since it is not as straightforward or modern as you might expect:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

What piece of classical music would you listen to in order to mark the holiday?

There is a lot to choose from.

The Ear especially likes “Le Tombeau de Couperin” by the early 20th-century French composer Maurice Ravel. It is a “tombeau” – a metaphorical “tomb” or “grave” used by the French to mean paying homage to the dead – in two senses.

Its neo-Classical or neo-Baroque style recalls the 18th-century world of French composers and harpsichordists including Jean-Philippe Rameau and Francois Couperin. But in a second sense, Ravel (below, in 1910) dedicated each of the six movements to a friend – in one case, two brothers — who had died during World War I. So part of its appeal is that it is a very personal statement of grief.

Here is more detailed background about the piece:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_tombeau_de_Couperin

The work was orchestrated later, which added sonic color but cut out two movements. The Ear prefers the original piano version, which seems a little more percussive, austere and straightforward — less pretty but more beautiful, and more in keeping with the holiday by evoking sentiment without sentimentality.

In the YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear it in a live performance by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt.

But there are lots of other works to choose from by many composers: John Adams (“The Wound Dresser” after poetry of Walt Whitman); Samuel Barber (Adagio for Strings); Ludwig van Beethoven (slow movements of Symphonies 3 and 7, and of the Piano Sonata Op. 26); Johannes Brahms (“A German Requiem”); Benjamin Britten (War Requiem);  Frederic Chopin (Funeral March from Sonata No. 2, polonaises, preludes and the “Revolutionary” Etude); Aaron Copland (“Fanfare for the Common Man” and “Letter From Home”); Edward Elgar (“Nimrod” from “Enigma Variations”); Gabriel Faure (Requiem and Elegy for cello); Franz Joseph Haydn (“Mass in Time of War”); Paul Hindemith (“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d – A Requiem for Those We Love”);  Charles Ives (Variations on “America” and “Decoration Day”); Henry Purcell (“When I Am Laid in Earth”); John Philip Sousa (“Honored Dead” March); Ralph Vaughan Williams (Symphony No. 3 “Pastoral”); and many others, including Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Here is a list from the British radio station Classical FM:

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/occasions/memorial/remembrance-day-music/war-requiem-britten/

Here is a list of patriotic music from Nashville Public Radio:

https://www.nashvillepublicradio.org/post/classical-music-remembrance-and-loss-memorial-day-playlist#stream/0

Here is another list from an American source:

http://midamerica-music.com/blog/five-classical-works-memorial-day/

Here are more sound samples from NPR:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104341851

And here is another one from Northwest Public Radio:

https://www.nwpb.org/2015/05/22/memorial-day-music-commemorate-celebrate/

What do you think of a holiday commemorating civilian deaths in war?

What favorite piece of classical music would you play and listen to as you mark Memorial Day?

Let us know, with a YouTube link if possible, in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


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Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble performs a varied program of French, German, Italian and Dutch music on Sunday afternoon

November 23, 2016
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ALERT: There will NOT be a Noon Musicale this Friday at the First Unitarian Society of Madison. The weekly series resumes next week.

By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a very varied concert of baroque chamber music on this coming Sunday, Nov. 27, at 3 p.m. at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church (below), 1833 Regent Street, on the near west side of Madison.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Madison Front

St. Andrew's Church interior

Members of the ensemble include Eric Miller, viola da gamba; Sigrun Paust, recorder; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo-soprano; Monica Steger, traverso flute, harpsichord; Anton TenWolde, baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord.

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

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

For more information, visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org

A reception will be held at 2422 Kendall Ave, second floor after the concert.

The program includes:

Johann Sebastian Bach – Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord in D major, BWV 1028

Francesco Maria Veracini (below) – Sonata No. 1 for recorder and basso continuo in F major

Jan Peterszoon Sweelinck, Toccata in C

Johann Jakob Froberger, Fantasie

Giovanni Bononcini, “Vorrei pure pianger”

francesco-maria-veracini

Intermission

Joseph de Bodin de Boismortier – Sonata for flute and harpsichord, Opus 91, No. 2

Francois Couperin – “Le Dodo ou l’Amour au Berceau”

Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco – Capriccio for solo violoncello No.

Louis-Nicholas Clerembault – Hymne des Anges

Georg Philipp TelemannTrio sonata for recorder, viola da gamba, and basso continuo, TWV 42:F3 (heard in the YouTube video below)


Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble explored neglected virtuosic Baroque music with artistry and enterprise.

December 3, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who for 12 years hosted an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT-FM 89.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.

John-Barker

By John W. Barker

The latest concert by the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble was held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church on Regent Street, on last Sunday afternoon.

The familiar members of the group were mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo; Brett Lipshutz, flute; Monica Steger, recorder, flute and harpsichord; Eric Mills, viola da gamba; Anton TenWolde, cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord. As usual, most had at least one solo appearance and all participated in one or more ensembles. (NOTE: Performance photos are by John W. Barker.)

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble DEc 2015 JWB

The music that was performed might be divided into four categories.

One was vocal. In each half of the program, Sañudo brought her dramatic flair to two Italian cantatas by George Frideric Handel: Nel dolce dell’oblio and Mi palpita il cor.

In the second category, there were two works for unaccompanied low stringed instrument. TenWolde opened the first half with a ricercata by Giovanni Batista deli Antonii (1636-1689), one of the earlier published pieces for violoncello.

Wisconsin Barique Ensemble Anton ten Wolde Nov 2015 JWB

Miller (below) closed the first half with one of the earliest published works for gamba, a Suite by one M. de Machy (later 17th century). Further on, Yount played a harpsichord Suite by Georg Böhm (1661-1733).

Eric Miller Nov 2015 JWB

Representing a third category, Lipshutz played a Sonata for traverso flute by Johann Philipp Kirnberger (1721-1783).

The second half was framed by two ensemble sets, which constituted the fourth category. One was the Second of the Concerts royaux by François Couperin (1668-1733), played by flute, gamba, and harpsichord. (You can hear the Couperin suite in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The other was a quadro, or French Quartet, by Georg Phillip Telemann (1681-1767), for two flutes and cello with continuo, delivered by all five instrumentalists.

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble Consuelo Sanuda, Monica Steger JWB

Plainly, the menu was a varied one, full of individually interesting and appealing music. All of it required not only informed musicianship from the performers but also considerable virtuosity.

It must always be remembered that the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble, founded in 1990 by Ten Wolde, is the oldest still operating organization in Madison devoted to early music.

It remains outstanding in its artistry and enterprise.

 


Classical music: The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a Thanksgiving concert on this coming Sunday afternoon.

November 24, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear’s friends at the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble have sent the following word:

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will perform a Thanksgiving concert on this coming Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, at 3 p.m. in Saint Andrew‘s Episcopal Church, 1833 Regent Street, on Madison’s near west side. (Below are photos of the church’s exterior and interior.)

St. Andrew's Episcopal Madison Front

St. Andrew's Church interior

Performers include Brett Lipshutz, traverse; Eric Miller, viola da gamba; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo-soprano; Monica Steger, traverso, recorder, harpsichord; Anton TenWolde, baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord.

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

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

For more information: Call (608) 238-5126; or email info@wisconsinbaroque.org; or visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org

The program features: “Ricercata X sopra il violoncello” (1687) by Giovanni Battista Degli Antonii; “Nel dolce dell’ oblio,” HWV 134, by George Fridrich Handel; Sonata 5 for traverse and basso continuo by Johann Kirnberger;  the Second Concert, from Concerts Royaux (1722) by François Couperin; Pièces de Violle, Suite 4 (1685) by Monsieur de Machy; “Mi palpita il cor,” HWV 132c, by George Friderich Handel: Suite No. 6 in E-flat Major by Georg Boehm (1661-1733): and Quartet in E Minor by Georg Philipp Telemann (heard in the YouTube video at the bottom as played on Baroque period instruments and historically informed performance practices by members of the Freiburger Barockorchester.) 

PLEASE NOTE: There will be a reception at our studio at nearby 2422 Kendall Ave, second floor, immediately following the concert.

 


Classical music: This weekend brings concerts of wind music; old and new music for Baroque flute; and early songs about money and poverty.

April 25, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings us three big events: two performances by the Madison Opera of Jake Heggie’s opera “Dead Man Walking” (Friday night at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.); a one-time performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s rarely heard a cappella “Vespers” by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Choral Union on Saturday night at 8 p.m.; and pianist Ryan McCullough in Ludwig Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas at Farley’s House of Pianos on Saturday night at 8 p.m.

But there are smaller concerts for you to consider too, some of which do not conflict with the others.

WIND MUSIC

Tonight, Friday night, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble (below, in a photo by Katherine Esposito), under director and conductor Scott Teeple, will perform a FREE concert.

UW Wind Ensemble Katherine Esposito

The program include “Profanation” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Bencriscutto; 
”Concerto for Wind Percussion and Wind Ensemble” by Karel Husa; 
”Colonial Song” by Percy Grainger “Raise the Roof” by Michael Daugherty; and
”Symphony in Three Movements” by retiring UW tubist and composer John Stevens (below).

John Stevens

NEW MUSIC FOR BAROQUE FLUTES

On Saturday from noon to 1 p.m., the FREE concert series Grace Presents will present “New and Historic Music for Baroque Flute” with flutist Millie Chang (below) and others.

Millie Chang

The concert is designed to be a refreshing break, a parenthesis in time and task, from the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which has started up again. Audiences are invited to bring lunch or food.

dane county farmers' market

The venue is the lovely and acoustically resonant Grace Episcopal Church (below are exterior and interior views), at 116 West Washington Avenue, down on the Capitol Square.

grace episcopal church ext

Grace Episcopal harpsichord

Some of Madison’s most talented classical instrumentalists will perform the short but unique recital for baroque flute featuring compositions spanning three centuries.

Performers include Millie (Mi-Li) Chang and Danielle Breisach (below top), Baroque flute; UW-Madison professor Stephanie Jutt, modern flute; UW-Madison professor John Chappell Stowe, harpsichord; and Eric Miller (below bottom), viola da gamba. 

Danielle Breisach

Eric Miller viol

Here is the specific program: David MacBride: “Shadow” for two baroque flutes (1993); Robert Strizich: “Tombeau” for baroque flute and harpsichord (1982); François Couperin, “Concert Royal” No. 2 in D major (1722), which can be heard in a YouTube video at the bottom; University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music composer Stephen Dembski (below top), “Gits and Piths” for modern and baroque flutes (2014); UW-Madison bassoonist, conductor and composer Marc Vallon (below bottom), “Ami” (2014); and Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata in B minor for baroque flute and harpsichord, BWV 1030 (1736-37).

For more information, visit www.gracepresents.org

Stephen Dembski

Vallon,M

WOODWIND QUINTET

The fourth concert of the Kat Trio Chamber Music Series features the Veldor Woodwind Quintet. The concert will take place in Memorial United Church of Christ, 5705 Lacy Road, Fitchburg on Saturday night, April 26, 2014 at 7 p.m.

There will be 30-minute Q&A session before the performance.

Suggested donation: $10 adults and $5 students.

Member of the Veldor Woodwind Quintet (below) are: Barbara Paziouros Roberts (flute), Andy Olson (oboe), Joe Kania (clarinet), Brad Sinner (horn), and Brian Ellingboe (bassoon). They combine educational backgrounds in music performance from the Eastman School of Music, DePaul University, Lawrence University, Luther College, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music with many years of performing experience both locally and abroad.

Now in their fifth year, the Veldor continues to entertain audiences with its dynamic performances of standard and non-traditional repertoire alike.

For additional information, visit www.thekattrio.net/chamberseries

Veldor Woodwind Quintet

EARLY MONEY SONGS

Then on Sunday, April 27, at 2 p.m., at the Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 110 North Whitney Way, the early music group Eliza’s Toyes (below) is performing a program titled “Toss The Pot: Songs About Money, or the Lack Thereof.”

Eliza's Toyes 2012 2

Writes founder singer and conductor Jerry Hui (below): “Through songs from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque period, we sing about the age-old problem of money, people’s desire for it, as well as things that are even more precious. There’ll be a “sermon of money” from “Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”; selection from Palestrina’s “Canticum Canticorum”; a song by Orlandi di Lassus about hungry musicians stealing food; chansons by Josquin des Prez, Sermisy and Le Jeune; and many more.”

Tickets are $15.

Jerry Hui

 

 

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Classical music: Help restore a historic coop piano. This Saturday is the first of two concerts to benefit the Mason and Hamlin grand at Arboretum Cohousing (Arbco). Trevor Stephenson will perform on harpsichord and piano. Plus, tonight is composer Nils Bultmann’s CD party at the Overture Center.

November 8, 2013
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ALERT: Blog friend and guest blogger Mikko Utevsky writes: “There  will be a fun and unusual concert tonight at 6 p.m. in the Overture Center‘s Promenade Hall. (Tickets are $10-$15.) Madison-born Nils Bultmann is a very good violist with a unique and quirky compositional style that I find immensely enjoyable to perform, and he is giving a CD pre-release performance. The program will be a viola extravaganza with several players from the UW-Madison joining him onstage, including Sally Chisholm and myself, for a series of 10 duets he composed. There will also be dance by Jin-Wen Yu. More information is below. That night is also the UW Concert Choir and Chorale concert at 8 p.m and the Bartsch sisters with the Overture Organ at 7:30 p.m., so it’s a full docket. But Nils, Sally and I would all appreciate if you can toss a mention of this in.”
http://overturecenter.com/production/nils-bultmann

Nils Bultmann - Headshot

By Jacob Stockinger

A while ago, The Ear put out the call for guest bloggers.

Janet Murphy responded with the following blog post about a concert that is coming this Saturday night and that will benefit the restoration of the historic grand piano at Arboretum Cohousing.

Here is some information from Janet: “I received my bachelors and masters in musicology from the University of Michigan. After toiling in the music industry for 20 years, I got a bachelors in nursing from UW, and have worked as an RN (Registered Nurse) ever since. 

“Music is now my hobby. I sing in the UW Choral Union, play with an informal recorder group, and I am currently taking banjo lessons. Needless to say I am a big fan of The Well-Tempered Ear. I hope you will consider coming to the concerts. They will be great fun.”

Here is the guest post, with many of her own photos, by Janet Murphy (below):

Janet Murphy

By Janet Murphy

Arboretum Cohousing is delighted to present two benefit concerts to raise funds for the restoration of their Common House grand piano (below).

Arbco Grand Piano

The first concert will be this Saturday, November 9, by the celebrated keyboardist and historian Trevor Stephenson of Madison. The second will be Saturday January 18 by Metropolitan Opera star and Madison resident mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter Foss. Both concerts are at 7 p.m. and will take place at 1137 Erin St., next to St. Marys Hospital and near the UW-Madison Arboretum.

These will certainly be very nice concerts, but there are many very nice concerts in the Madison area … an embarrassment of riches, really.  So, why make a point of attending these two concerts?

FIVE REASONS TO ATTEND A CONCERT AT ARBORETUM COHOUSING

1) Arboretum Cohousing (aka Arbco) is an intentional living community located in the heart of Madison’s Greenbush neighborhood.  With 40 units and 85 members, it is the largest of Madison’s three cohousing communities.  Living in cohousing is very special, and it’s worth a visit to see what it’s all about. If you have never been to a cohousing, this is your chance.

Arboretum Cohousing Arbco

2) Featured at each concert will be the exceptional Mason Hamlin Model AA 1930 Grand Piano that resides at Arbco. Built during the golden age of grand pianos, this fine instrument was recently restored by one of Madison’s preeminent piano technicians, Jim Forrest (below, with owner Lucy Moore).

Jim Forrest & Lucy Moore, owner

Steinway and Mason & Hamlin were in fierce competition in pre-depression era America to see who could build the superior piano. Many felt Mason & Hamlin won.

Mason and Hamlin harp and strings

3) Sweets, savories and beverages will be provided by Arbco.  If you have attended any of their craft fairs, blood drives, sing-a-longs, dances, you know Arbco knows how to lay out a spread and have fun in their spacious Common House.  What is a Common House?  Come see.

4) Trevor Stephenson, the founder and director of the Madison Bach Musicians, is so entertaining, and so broadly talented.  He is bringing along his 8-foot, circa 1720-style, double manual harpsichord.  Expect a journey through three centuries of keyboard music, and expect that he will make you laugh. Stephenson writes: “I’ll perform music by Bach, Couperin, Handel and Scarlatti on my double manual harpsichord. For the second half I’ll play works by Chopin, Brahms and Joplin on Arbco’s beautiful, newly restored vintage Mason Hamlin grand piano. Proceeds from the concert will raise funds for the recently completed restoration of this instrument–a Mason Hamlin Model AA from 1930.

Trevor Stephenson Explains

5) Mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter Foss is the only person from Wisconsin to ever win the Metropolitan Opera Auditions.  We are lucky to have her living in Madison, but we don’t have enough opportunities to see her locally.  January 18 is your chance.  Like Trevor, she has a broad repertoire, and will be showing off both her classical and popular chops.

kitt reuter foss

Tickets are $25 for each concert  Tickets can be reserved online, in person or by mail at Arboretum Cohousing (members are below, forming a tree): www.ArboretumCohousing.org or ArbcoPiano@gmail.com,  or by calling (608) 260-0284.

Arbco members as a tree


Classical music: Gustavo Dudamel conducts Mahler’s 8th for “LA Phil Live in HD” on Saturday; and the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble continues its long tradition of championing early music in the Madison area.

February 17, 2012
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Alert: Gustavo meets Gustav again this Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Eastgate and Point Cinemas, when the “LA Phil Live in HD” broadcast features the 31-year-old superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel (below) with the combined Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, plus soloists and choirs,  performing Gustav Mahler‘s famous Symphony No. 8, the “Symphony of a Thousand.” Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for children. For information, here is a link to a New York TImes story: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/arts/music/gustavo-dudamel-and-los-angeles-philharmonic-hailed-in-caracas.html?pagewanted=all

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a special posting, a review written by frequent guest critic and writer for this blog, John W. Barker. Barker (below) is an emeritus professor of Medieval history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is a well-known classical music critic who writes for Isthmus and the American Record Guide, and who hosts an early music show every other Sunday morning on WORT 88.9 FM. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison.

By John W. Barker

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) has established such high standards of programming and performance that it is easy to take them for granted.

But their mid-season concert at The Gates of Heaven on last Sunday afternoon, Feb. 12, in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park was another opportunity to appreciate what musical riches they bring to us.

The program was a typical mixture of genres and national styles.

Two works for low stringed instruments provided focal points. One was played adroitly by Anton TenWolde (below, front left): an early example of a cello sonata, by the late-17th century Bolognese master Domenico Gabrielli (no relation to the Venetian Gabrielis: note difference in spelling!). The other was the third of Bach’s sonatas for viola da gamba, given a bracing reading by Eric Miller.

On the vocal side, soprano Mimmi Fulmer and mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo (below) joined in two examples of the small-scaled sacred pieces (with German texts) by Heinrich Schütz, with both blending of, and contrast between, their fine voices. Later, they took turns at the verses making up one of Lalande’s settings of the Latin Lamentations for Good Friday, powerfully emotional expressions of sacred anguish.

Climaxing each of the program’s two halves were demanding chamber works.

From François Couperin, one of the concerts from his set of Les Goûts-réunis (“The Tastes Reconciled”), endeavoring to reconcile the Italian style of Corelli with the French mode of ensemble writing. Violinist Edith Hines (below) had ample opportunity to shine in its eight contrasting movements.

And, as a grand finale, all the instrumentalists joined together (with harpsichordist Max Yount (below), the anchor throughout the entire program) for Marin Marais‘s extravagant fantasy on bell-pealing, the “Sonnerie de Sainte Geneviève du Mont” (at bottom) wherein Hines and Miller brought further virtuosity to bear.

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble was, from 1990, the pioneer regional group devoted to exploring early music and historical performance practices.

Its survival this long is one of the demonstrations of Madison’s exciting yet mature nurturing of literature beyond the conventional. We continue to be in the WBE’s debt.


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