The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Farley’s underappreciated Salon Piano Series shines again with duo-pianists Robert Plano and Paola Del Negro

September 29, 2017
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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 hosts an early music show once a month on Sunday morning on WORT-FM 89.9 FM. For years, he served on the Board of Advisors for the Madison Early Music Festival and frequently gives pre-concert lectures in Madison. He also took the performance photos.

By John W. Barker

Roberto Plano appeared last season in a four-piano concert in the Salon Piano Series at Farley’s House of Pianos. This year, to open the 2017-18 season in the same series on last Sunday afternoon, the Boston-based pianist brought along his pianist wife, Paola Del Negro, for a duo program of utter fascination. (They are below.)

The first half of the program was devoted to music for piano-four hands, the duo alternating between primo and secondo parts. Robert Schumann’s six “Pictures From the East,” Op. 66, are examples of the composer’s important duo output.

Burgmein was the pen name of the covert composer better known as the influential music promoter and publisher Giulio Ricordi (below). His set of six duet pieces evoking characters from the Italian Renaissance Commedia dell’Arte tradition followed.

Then came two of the Hungarian Dances (No. 2 and 5) by Johannes Brahms in their original piano-duo form. (You can hear them play Hungarian Dances by Brahms in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Ending the program’s first half was one of its biggest hits. After composing the great orchestral cycle of six patriotic scenes called “My Country,” Bedrich Smetana (below) made four-hand piano arrangements of each. Plano and Del Negro played that for the popular “Moldau.” This arrangement managed to capture a good deal of the orchestral original’s coloristic and dramatic effects, and was played with particular power.

The entire second half was devoted exclusively to a major work by Brahms, his Sonata for Two Pianos, Op. 34b. This work was created first as a string quintet, then later discarded. But the two-piano version (below) was superseded by Brahms’ transformation of its material into a Quintet for Piano and Strings (reckoned as plain Op. 34).

The Quintet — which, by the way will be performed by the UW’s Pro Arte Quartet in the Salon Series next March — is, of course, one of the composer’s masterpieces. But the Two-Piano Sonata survives on its own merits. The parallel material is presented cogently, all of it redistributed in consistently keyboard terms, as against the mixed media of the Quintet.

The duo played it with the necessary Brahmsian burliness and power, and on Farley’s wonderful vintage pianos it sounded simply magnificent.

As an encore, the duo played a two-piano arrangement of an energetic tango piece by Astor Piazzolla, but then followed with another, in this case, an eight-hand piano trifle in which the Plano-Del Negro duo were joined as parents by their two young daughters (below). The audience could hardly resist that!

Plano and Del Negro are great discoveries. And once again, the Salon Piano Series has shown itself as one of the exciting, if too-little-known of Madison’s musical treasures.

For more information about the Salon Piano Series and its upcoming concerts, go to: http://salonpianoseries.org


Classical music datebook: The busiest week EVER in Madison features the world premiere of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5; requiems by Verdi and John Rutter; violinist Itzhak Perlman; and much, much more.

April 18, 2012
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UPDATE: Here is the review, posted Tuesday morning, by Greg Hettmansberger for Madison Magazine and his blog “Classically Speaking” of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra‘s concert last Friday with the chamber orchestra version of Beethoven’s Ninth: http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Blogs/Classically-Speaking/April-2012/Wisconsin-Chamber-Orchestra-Surprises-with-Low-fat-Beethoven/

You can read others’ reviews plus my own review at:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=18657&action=edit

By Jacob Stockinger

This is the busiest week EVER in Madison for classical music I can remember, and I have been living here a long time. So it may well be the busiest week ever in Madison — period.

There are so many good or great choices, that one hardly knows where to begin or end.

And that’s not even counting Earth Day weekend activities or the 2012 Wisconsin Film Festival, which will run from April 18-22 and will screen more than 150 movies in nine cinemas. And I don’t know whether the film festival will draw more audiences to concerts downtown, or whether it will cut into music audiences. (I suspect the latter.)

I may be wrong, but I challenge anyone to think of a busier week, or a week with more difficult choices.

Take a look and tell me.

You should know that I am only listing the events for Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer), which wraps up its centennial season. For a fuller description and other information, visit these other links and this earlier post from last week:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/classical-music-news-get-ready-for-john-harbison-week-and-pro-arte-quartet-week-with-free-events-and-concerts-at-the-university-of-wisconsin-madison/

And here are some other links to the Pro Arte Quartet and John Harbison events:

http://www.news.wisc.edu/20535

http://proartequartet.org/schedule.html

http://www.music.wisc.edu/pro-arte

TODAY, WEDNESDAY

Today from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Room 1351 of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St., American composer John Harbison (below) will discuss his recent music and new String Quartet No. 5 in a public composition master class as part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Centennial. Free.

THURSDAY

From 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. in Mills Hall, Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. there is an open rehearsal by the Pro Arte Quartet (below, rehearsing) with composer John Harbison for the world premiere of his Quartet No. 5 for the quartet’s centennial concert on Saturday night, April 21, at 8 p.m. in the Mills Hall of the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park St. Free.

At 7:30 p.m. in Overture Hall, superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman will perform a recital of Brahms (Sonata Movement, Violin Sonata N.2 and Three Hungarian Dances plus Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2). Tickets are $40.50-$89.50. For more information visit: 

http://overturecenter.com/production/itzhak-perlman

FRIDAY

Friday’s FREE Noon Musicale, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium (below) of the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive features violinist Leanne League and pianist Dan Broner in Brahms’ Violin Sonata No. 1. For information, call 608 233-9774 or visit www.fusmadison.org

From 4 to 5:30 p.m. UW School of Music Colloquium in Room 2650 in the Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St. Public lecture-discussion by UK musicologist Tully Potter (below) on early 20th-century European string quartets. Free.

At 8 p.m. in Overture Hall, the UW Choral Union and UW Symphony Orchestra (both below in Mills Hall), conducted by Beverly Taylor perform Verdi’s  “Requiem” with soloists Shannon Prickett, soprano; Marion Dry, mezzo-soprano; Aldo Perrelli, tenor; and Tony Dillon, bass.

Tickets are  $10, $15, $20 and $25 through Overture Center Box Office, (608) 258-4141 or overturecenter.com.

The UW Choral Union comprises 175 voices and Symphony Orchestra has about 85 members.  Antiphonal trumpets will be positioned in box seats above and in front of the stage. The Requiem will be sung without intermission and lasts approximately 90 minutes.  This concert marks the first time Choral Union has performed the Verdi work since May 1999 at the Stock Pavilion.

For more information, visit: http://www.news.wisc.edu/20498

At 8 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, the Madison Chamber Choir will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a concert of 20th and 21st century works.  Under the sure direction of Anthony Cao, the choir will perform the Frank Martin Mass for Double Choir.  They will also give the world premiere of a piece commissioned especially for the occasion:  “O Setting Sun” by San Francisco composer David Conte (below).  For information, visit: http://www.madisonchamberchoir.com

SATURDAY

From 3 to 5 p.m. in the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave. UK musicologist Tully Potter will lecture on “Four Famous Belgians: The Quatuor Pro Arte (below, in 1940).” It will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Free. (Pre-concert cocktails and a dinner 5-6:45 with composer John Harbison and UK musicologist Tully Potter in the Chazen Museum of Art, are optional ($35) by calling (608) 265-ARTS or going to www.uniontheater.wisc.edu)

At 3:30 p.m. Morphy Hall this year’s Beethoven Piano Competition Winners will perform a FREE concert with a reception.

Aelin Woo, a senior, will peform the Sonata in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 “Tempest”; Jonathan Thornton, a first-year doctoral student, will perform Sonata in E Major, Op. 109; and Sung Ho Yang, a second-year doctoral student, will perform the Sonata in B-Flat Major, “Hammerklavier,” Op. 106.  All three are currently studying with professor Christopher Taylor.

The annual competition is sponsored by Chancellor Emeritus Irving Shain. 

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall:  Women’s Chorus (below) and University Chorus, directed by Sarah Riskind and Russell Adrian.  Free admission.

At 8 p.m. in Mills Concert Hall of the Mosse Humanities Building, 750 University Ave. will be the last of the four concerts by the Pro Arte Quartet with the WORLD PREMIERES of commissioned works: The Pro Arte Quartet will perform Haydn’s String Quartet in C Major, Op. 54, No. 2 (1788); the world premiere of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5 in 10 short movements (2011); and Cesar Franck’s String Quartet in D Major (1889). (Pre-concert events with introductions to composer John Harbison and British critic Tully Potter and with questions from the audience will be held free from 7-7:30 p.m. There will be a free post-concert dessert reception at the nearby University Club, 803 State St., immediately following the concert.) Free.

At 7 p.m. in the Oakwood Village Auditorium West, 6209 Mineral Point Road, the Oakwood Chamber Players (below, in a photo by Bill Arthur) will close out is season when it performs a special Earth Day concert with a Beethoven trio as well as Dvorak’s “Cypresses,” Franz Schrekers “Der Wind” and Carter Pann’s “Summer Songs.”

THE CONCERT WILL BE REPEATED ON SUNDAY AT 1:30 P.M. AT THE UW ARBORETUM VISITORS CENTER.

Individual ticket prices are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door. For any questions about the concerts please visit www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com or call (608) 230-4316.

The Oakwood Chamber Players is a professional musical ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Village and the Oakwood Foundation in collaboration with Friends of the Arboretum, Inc. All perform actively in the Madison area with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and an eclectic mix of other professional ensembles. The Oakwood Chamber Players have been performing at Oakwood Village since 1984.

At 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue, 300 East Gorham Street in James Madison Park, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble presents a concert of vocal and instrumental music.

The program includes J.S. Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue,” Contrapunctus 1-11; plus music by Monteverdi, Abel and Montéclair.

Tickets at the door $15 ($10 students).

Performers includes Edith Hines and Eleanor Bartsch, baroque violin; Marika Fischer Hoyt, baroque viola; Eric Miller, viola da gamba; Consuelo Sañudo, mezzo soprano; Anton TenWolde; baroque cello; and Max Yount, harpsichord.

For more comfort, feel free to bring your own chair or pillow. For more information 238-5126 or visit info@wisconsinbaroque.org, or visit www.wisconsinbaroque.org.

SUNDAY

From 12:30 to 2 p.m. in Brittingham Gallery III of the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave. “Sunday Live From the Chazen” will feature part of the Pro Arte Quartet’s Saturday night concert, including the second performance of John Harbison’s String Quartet No. 5. The event will be broadcast live over Wisconsin Public Radio (WERN 88.7 FM). Call 263-2246. Free.

 

At 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel at Edgewood college, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, mezzo-soprano Kathleen Otterson (below) will sing a program called “Life is a Cabaret.”

Admission is $7 to benefit music scholarships

Among the many works listed are those of Benjamin Britten, Stephen Sondheim, Marc Blitzstein, Johannes Brahms, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Christine Lavin, and Cole Porter.  The $7 admission benefits music scholarships at Edgewood College.

At 3 p.m. the new Atrium Auditorium (below, in a photo by Zane Williams) of the First Unitarian Society presents, 900 University Bay Drive, an All-Music Sunday will feature “Requiem” by the English composer, John Rutter (b. 1945) with the Society Choir with guest singers and instrumentalists. The program will also include Rutter’s “Suite Antique” for flute, strings and harpsichord.

A Free Will Offering will be accepted.

The Society Choir will be joined by solo soprano Heather Thorpe; Tyrone Greive is the Concertmaster, and Dan Broner, Music Director of First Unitarian Society, will conduct.  Flutist Marilyn Chohaney will be featured soloist in the “Suite Antique.”

For more information call (608) 233-9774.

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Trombone Choir, directed by Mark Hetzler (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) and the UW Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, directed by Matthew Mireles, will perform.  Free admission.

At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the University of Iowa Center for New Music, directed by David Gompper (below), will perform s FREE concert.

The program includes “Hiking on the Cascade Creek Trail” (2012) for solo percussion by Zach Zubow, a Ph.D. composition student at the University of Iowa; “Croquis” for string trio (1976-80) by Jeremy Dale Roberts, recently retired as head of composition at the Royal College of Music, London; “Musica segreta” for piano quartet (1996) by David Gompper; the premiere of “Mirage of the Mountains” (2012) for chamber ensemble by Zach Zubow; and “Chamber Symphony No. 1” (1992) by John Adams, one of the best known and most often performed of America’s composers.


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