The Well-Tempered Ear

UW-Madison sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch join Madison Symphony Orchestra organist Samuel Hutchison for a concert on Friday night. Plus, on Saturday night, UW cellist Parry Karp gives FREE recital that includes Schumann and Brahms.

November 7, 2013
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ALERT:  UW-Madison cellist Parry Karp (below), who heads the UW School of Music’s chamber music program and who perform with the Pro Arte Quartet, will give a FREE and PUBLIC recital on Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills  Hall. He will perform with his father and mother, Howard and Frances Karp, as piano accompanists. The program includes: “Poem for Cello and Piano” by Charles Tournemire; “Eight Pieces” by Theordor Kirchner; “Pieces in the folk Style for Cello and Piano” by Robert Schumann; and the late Sonata for Clarinet (or viola) and Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2, by Johannes Brahms as transcribed by Parry Karp.

Parry Karp

By Jacob Stockinger

Word has reached The Ear:

Sister violinists Alice and Eleanor Bartsch (below respectively, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will join the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s organist, Samuel Hutchison, in a recital of music for organ and violin on this Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall at the Overture Center.

Alice  and Eleanor Bartsch (c) Katrin Talbot

The generous program includes Johann Sebastian Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins; the Double Concerto in D Minor by Antonio Vivaldi; the Finale from Sonata No. 6 by Felix Mendelssohn; the Suite for Violin and Organ by Josef Rheinberger; the Prelude and Fugue in B Major by Marcel Dupre; the Coronation March from “Le Prophete” by Giacomo Meyerbeer; and the “Preludium and Allegro in the Style of Pugnani” by Fritz Kreisler (heard at the bottom in a very popular YouTube by superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman.)

Adds Teri Venker, the marketing director, in a press release for the Madison Symphony Orchestra:

“Sisters Alice and Eleanor Bartsch are a dynamic pairing: both are members of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s first violin section with impressive performance credits.

“Each sister has also won prestigious competitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) School of Music, where they are students.

“Currently, Eleanor is a first-year master’s student at UW and a Paul Collins Distinguished Graduate Fellow, and Alice is a senior at UW working toward a bachelor of music degree in performance.

The Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Samuel Hutchison (below, in a photo by Joe DeMaio) is a seasoned recitalist and will round out the powerful trio.

Sam Hutchison with organ (c) JoeDeMaio

“When asked about playing on Overture Stage, Eleanor Bartsch (below) said, it “still takes our breath away! There’s actually a ‘sweet spot’ on stage: If you stand exactly right, the sound seems to ‘jump’ out of the violin and soar all the way to the balcony. I wish I could practice in Overture Hall every day!”

Eleanor Bartsch

“Alice Bartsch said, “The Bach Double Violin Concerto is a piece we have been performing since we were little girls. The concert has a little bit of everything from the romanticism of Kreisler and Rheinberger to the powerful “Chaconne” by Tomaso Vitali. For baroque music lovers, we will play the lively Double Concerto by Vivaldi.”

Alice Bartsch

Both Alice and Eleanor agree that they have a “sister vibe” about timing and musical phrasing that makes playing together easy, fun, and rewarding.

For more information about the Bartsch sisters and their major funders including retired Citibank executive Paul Collins, retired UW chemistry professor Kato Perlman and retired UW-Madison Chancellor Irving Shain, read the fine posting by Public Relations Director and Concert Manager Kathy Esposito on the UW School of Music’s new blog “Fanfare” :

http://uwmadisonschoolofmusic.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/bartsch-sisters/

In addition to accompanying the Bartsch sisters, Hutchison will also perform solo works for organ by Marcel Dupré, Herbert Howells, Josef Rheinberger, and Tomaso Vitali.

Hutchison said, “It is a great privilege to be joined by Alice and Eleanor Bartsch in this program for organ and violins.  Each brings a great joy and freshness to this music, which will be infectious for the audience.  We look forward to sharing some audience favorites as well as some new pieces with our listeners in Overture Hall.”

Overture Concert Organ overview

General admission for the concert is $20, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.madisonsymphony.org/bartsch, the Overture Center Box Office or (608) 258-4141. Student rush tickets are $10 the day of the show with a valid student ID. (See http://www.madisonsymphony.org/studentrush).

The performance is sponsored by Kato L. Perlman, and by Alfred P. and Ann M. Moore, with additional funding from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund. With a gift from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation, the Madison Symphony Orchestra commissioned the Overture Concert Organ, which is the dramatic backdrop of all MSO concerts.

For more Overture Concert Organ information, visit http://www.madisonsymphony.org/organseason


Classical music: The University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet opens its new and very busy season this week with two FREE concerts of music by Mozart, Milhaud, Fritz Kreisler and Brahms plus a taping for Wisconsin Public Television.

September 27, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer) – which became the world’s first artists-in-residence in the world when they agreed to stay at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1940 — kicks off its new season with two FREE concerts this week and much more this fall.

Pro Arte Quartet new 2 Rick Langer

On Sunday, the Pro Arte Quartet returns to “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in a live broadcast over Wisconsin Public Radio.

The Pro Arte – which celebrated its historically unprecedented centennial two seasons ago — will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Prussia” String Quartet in D Major, K 575, Darius Milhaud’s Quartet No. 7 and the rarely heard Quartet in A Minor by the Viennese violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler who is best known for his miniature works, transcriptions and pastiches.

fritz kreisler

Then at 7:30 p.m. on next Thursday, Oct. 3 in Mills Hall, the Pro Arte will perform a FREE and MUST-HEAR concert in Mills Hall. It will perform the same Mozart and Kreisler quartets as above, but the Milhaud will be replaced by the String Quartet No. 1, Op. 51, No. 1, by Johannes Brahms.

brahms3

Also, stay tuned for word about an airing date for the program that the Pro Arte is recording this coming Monday night for Wisconsin Public Television.

The by-invitation-only TV concert has a program that features a prelude by Ernest Bloch (at bottom in a YouTube video) and the famous “Adagio for Strings” quartet movement – later transcribed for string orchestra at the request of famed conductor Arturo Toscanini (below top)  — by Samuel Barber (below bottom).

Many people forget that the Pro Arte Quartet gave the world premiere of the famous “Adagio for Strings” — the slow movement of Barber’s String Quartet in B Minor, Op. 11 —  in Rome in 1936.

Toscanini Conducts

barber 1

Also watch for news this fall of an Albany Records CD release — with a local release party — of the four commissions (two string quartets and two piano quintets)– that the Pro Arte Quartet commissioned for its centennial two seasons ago. The CD was engineered by the multiple Grammy Award-winner Judith Sherman (below).

Judith Sherman Grammy 2012

The two string quartets were composed from Walter Mays (below top) and John Harbison (below bottom), who is also the co-director of the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival.

Walter Mays mug

JohnHarbisonatpiano

The two piano quintets were composed by Paul Schoenfield (below top) and William Bolcom (below middle) and featured the celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor (below bottom).

Paul Schoenfield BW klezmerish

William Bolcom gesturing.

ChristopherTaylorNoCredit

Then at its FREE concert in Mills Hall at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, the Pro Arte will give the world premiere of its fifth centennial commission: a String Quartet by the contemporary Belgian composer Benoit Mernier (below). The Pro Arte originally started, you may recall, at the conservatory in Brussels.

Benoit Mernier 1

And finally, next May, the Pro Arte Quartet travels to Europe – to its home city of Brussels, Belgium, as well as London and maybe Paris – to perform works from its centennial commissions.

And there is still more to come, including a book about the Pro Arte Quartet by the retired UW-Madison historian turned music critic and guest writer for Isthmus and for this blog John W. Barker (below).

John-Barker

 


Classical music: The Kat Trio starts its new season on this Saturday in Fitchburg with music by Milhaud, Brahms, Dvorak, Kreisler, Shostakovich and others.

August 20, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Ekaterinburg Classical Trio -– also known as more colloquially as The Kat Trio -– will start its new season of concerts on this coming Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Memorial United Church of Christ (below) at 5705 Lacy Road in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

Memorial United Church of Christ Fitchburg

Admission is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for students.

The program includes Darius Milhaud’s “Suite,” Op. 157b; Frederic Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 27, No. 2; Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5; Antonin Dvorak’s “Humoresque”; the Polka from Ballet Suite No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich; Fritz Kreisler‘s “Miniature Viennese Waltz”;  Scott Joplin’s rag “The Entertainer”; and other works.

According to the trio, the church’s sanctuary has wonderfully warm acoustics and a beautiful grand piano.  Artists will do an audience Q&A prior to their performances. There’s plenty of convenient free parking

Members of the very listener-friendly Kat Trio (below, in the the order named from the left) are the wife-and-husband team of violinist Victoria Gorbich, clarinetist Vladislav Gorbich with guest pianist Heidi Wiskur.

In addition to the August 24 and November 2 concerts that are confirmed, the trio will be scheduling concerts in February and April.  Depending upon response to the first four concerts, they may move from four to six concerts per year.

the kat trio 2013 with heidi

BACKGROUND

The ensemble from Ekaterinburg, Russia, formed in May of 1998 in Ekaterinburg by three friends: Victoria Gorbich (violin), Vladislav Gorbich (clarinet) and Vasil Galiulin (piano). They had just graduated from the Ural State Music Conservatory. (Pianists have changed over the years.)

Today The Kat Trio is Victoria, Vladislav and pianist Heidi Wiskur. Victoria and Vlad are doctoral graduates of Arizona State University. Heidi is a graduate of Indiana University.

Their concerts showcase unique Russian arrangements and transpositions of timeless melodies and feature classical works, well-known inspirational songs, and even American pop standards, including Scott Joplin’s rags (At bottom is a YouTube video of a 2006 performance in Madison, Wisconsin, with the Kat Trio performing a tuneful movement from a trio by Aram Khachaturian.)

According to a press release, “ ‘Joyful’ is the word that audiences often use to describe the Ekaterinburg Classical Trio’s presentation of classical, inspirational, and pop standards. The Kat Trio loves performing live. The Kat Trio has done multiple U.S. tours, starting in 2000. It has played more than 600 concerts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Chicago, Dallas, Little Rock, Shreveport, Branson, Denver, Lincoln, Des Moines, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and hundreds of small communities. When not found in concert venues, college or high school auditoriums, or in classrooms doing Master Classes, the Trio is performing for Sunday services or presenting concerts in churches.”

The Ekaterinburg Trio’s website, www.thekattrio.net, features a Music page where fans can hear music files from all 10 CD’s. The Video link features dozens of Kat Trio videos on YouTube.

The Kat Trio recordings are:

“20th Century Masters(2000) (Classical)
 “The Kat Trio in America”  (2000) (American standards)
 “On Eagles’ Wings” (2001) (Inspirational)
 “Serenade for Three” (2002) (Classical)
 “The Kat Trio – Live” (2003) (All genres)
 “A Kat Trio Christmas” (2004) (Traditional Christmas favorites)
 “The Space Between” (2004) (Classical & American pop standards)
 “Romantic Expressions” (2006) (Classical)
 “Kat Trio Classics” (2009) (Classical)
 “What Wondrous Love is This” (2011) (Inspirational)

 


Classical music Q&A: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto is the “godfather” of popular Romantic violin concertos, says violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, who will perform it Friday night with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

February 21, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

This Friday night at 8 p.m., in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (below) will perform under music director and conductor Andrew Sewell with violin soloist Alexander Sitkovetsky, who will be making his Madison debut.

The concert will begin with a shot piece by Benjamin Britten, the “End Sequence” of “Night Mail.” American Players Theatre actor James Ridgeway with speak the narration by famed poet W.H. Auden.

But after that it becomes all-Beethoven.

Big Beethoven.

Specifically, the WCO will be joined by Sitkovetsky in Beethoven’s famous Violin Concerto.

Then comes the equally famous and beloved Symphony No. 6 or “Pastoral” with its peasant dances and storm sequence.

For more information about the concert and tickets, visit:

http://www.wcoconcerts.org/performances/masterworks/27/event-info/

On tour in Italy, Sitkovetsky (below) gave an email Q&A to the Ear:

Could briefly introduce yourself to readers and mention highlights of your personal and professional life?

I am Alexander Sitkovetsky and I am a concert violinist. I was born in Moscow, Russia, but moved to England at the age of 7 to study at the Yehudi Menuhin School. I was invited by Lord Menuhin himself (below), so this was an incredible honor and an amazing opportunity for me.

A definite early highlight was having the chance to perform Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with Menuhin at the age of 8. Although I was very young, I will never forget the amazing experience of having the opportunity to share the stage with one of the greatest musicians and people of the 20th century.

Other career highlights include recording my first CD for the Angel-EMI label; performing in some of the world’s most beautiful concert halls like the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Wigmore Hall and many others. Earlier this year, in January, I made my recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall in New York. I also got married last summer to a fantastic pianist from Shanghai, Wu Qian. We have a fantastic piano trio together with a German Cellist, Leonard Elschenbroich

What are your current and upcoming projects – tours, recordings, special events, whatever?

This is a busy time, after my trip to Madison, which I am greatly looking forward to. I will perform with different orchestras in the UK in March, culminating in a performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Brussels Philharmonic at London’s Cadogan Hall. Later this year, I will have a tour of Switzerland performing the Glazunov Violin Concerto and appear at the Gstaad Festival.

In September, I will be a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. I will be doing two programs at Lincoln Center in New York so I am looking forward to coming to the US more often and performing with this fantastic organization. With my trio (below), we will be performing at the Wigmore Hall in May and then Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Konzerthaus Orchestra of Berlin in the summer.

In Madison you will be performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto. How do you place that work in the context of and compared to other major concertos in the violin repertoire?

I think that in many ways, the Beethoven Violin Concerto is the “godfather” of the big violin concertos that we all know so well, and who knows if Brahms, Tchaikovsky and the others would have written their concertos if it wasn’t for Beethoven (below).

I believe that it is the biggest and most expansive concerto written up to that point. It has beautiful, sweeping melodic lines, and though the violin is the solo instrument, it is constantly in dialogue with the orchestra. There is a very symphonic feel to the work.

What attracts other people but especially you to the music of Beethoven? Are there favorite Beethoven works – for violin or other instruments – that you repeatedly turn to?

Are there violinists in the past whom you especially admire and think of as role models in terms of tone, interpretation, technique, etc.?

I admire all great violinists, both from the past and the present. I grew up with the recordings of Heifetz (below top) and for me he is the greatest violinist that we have ever heard with our own ears. (Paganini we just know about and can imagine). Also, I am a huge admirer of Fritz Kreisler (below bottom), mostly because of his tone and also because it never seemed that he was in a hurry. He always took his time to sing all the notes and I think that this is an amazing quality. His recording of the Beethoven Concerto is actually my favorite of the piece.

What qualities do you look for in the best or finest performances by yourself or others?

It is a difficult question to answer because when you are working on yourself, you are looking for so many things and are never fully satisfied. But I would say that I think that the most important thing is to try and create an interpretation that is wholly convincing and one that will connect with the audience and maybe touch them in some way — whether this is through your sound, through your virtuosity or through the depth of your interpretation. Usually a really successful performance will have all three!

I believe this is your second performance in Madison. In the fall of 2010 you performed Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. What would you like to say about the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and conductor Andrew Sewell or about Madison and its audiences? 

Unfortunately, I was ill and had to cancel my appearance! So this will be my debut in Madison! But I have worked with Andrew Sewell (below) once before in Monterrey with the Paganini Concerto and that was a lot of fun! I am very excited about seeing and working with him again!


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