The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here are this week’s FREE events at the UW-Madison where the spotlight falls on new music

March 27, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

This will be a busy week at the UW-Madison.

Here are the events, concerts and master classes, at the UW-Madison this week. All events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

As you can see, a lot of new music will be featured.

TUESDAY

At noon in Morphy Recital Hall, oboist Courtney Miller (below), of the University of Iowa, will give a master class. 

At 7:30 p.m.in Mills Hall, Mike Leckrone (below top) will lead the UW Concert Band (below bottom) in a FREE concert. Sorry, no word on the program.


WEDNESDAY

At 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, pianist Emile Naoumoff (below), from Indiana University, will give a recital.

Sorry, no word about the program. But there is a lot of background about the acclaimed French pianist who once studied at age 10 with the legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger and then later took over for her. (You can see him and Boulanger in the YouTube video at the bottom.) For information, go to http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/guest-artist-emile-naoumoff-pianist/

Naoumoff will also give a master class on Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon in Morphy Recital Hall.

THURSDAY

From 10 a.m. to noon in Morphy Recital Hall, guest pianist Emile Naoumoff will give a master class. See Wednesday’s listings for information about him and his recital.

FRIDAY

At 7 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, a concert of new music will be performed by Sound Out Loud (below) in conjunction with a two-day conference. For the complete program and more information, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/midwest-graduate-music-consortium-presenting-original-research-and-new-compositions/

At 7:30 in Mills Hall, the UW Wind Ensemble (below top) will give a FREE concert under conductor Scott Teeple (below bottom).

The program includes “The Leaves Are Falling” by Warren Benson as well as two Wisconsin premieres: “Across the Graining Continent” by Jonathan Newman; and Suite in E-Flat by Gustav Holst, edited by Matthews.

SATURDAY

At 1:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, the UW-Madison Trombone Quartet performs music by Tchaikovsky,Webern, Shostakovich, Tull and Bozza among others. Members of the quartet are Thomas Macaluso, Kevin Schoeller, Matthew Bragstad and Nicolas Lawrence.

At 8 p.m. the wife-and husband piano-percussion duo Sole Nero (below), consisting of Jessica Johnson (piano) and Anthony DiSanza (percussion), will perform a faculty concert of new music.

For the complete program and program notes, plus biographies, go to:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/event/sole-nero-with-jessica-johnson-and-anthony-disanza/

It is also that time of the academic year when there are a lot of student recitals and lecture-recitals, especially ones by graduate students, that might interest the public. This week, The Ear sees at least half a dozen listed including those by a cellist, violinist, hornist, trumpeter and flutist.

For more information, go to: http://www.music.wisc.edu/events/


Classical music: Acclaimed organist Janette Fishell plays music by J.S. Bach and other Romantic and modern composers in her Madison and Overture Hall debut this Friday night.

March 18, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you thought that the Madison Symphony Orchestra only programmed orchestral music, you would be very wrong.

The MSO also programs chamber music, such as string quartets, and even organ recitals on the Overture Concert Organ.

Take this Friday night, for instance.

Here is how a press release from the MSO puts it:

“How many concerts does it take to play the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach (below)?

Bach1

Internationally renowned organist Janette Fishell (below) found out that 21 was the magic number when she performed the complete cycle of Bach’s organ music.

Now she will bring some of this magic to Madison.

The third installment of the 2013-14 Madison Symphony Orchestra Overture Concert Organ series will feature  Fishell, an internationally renowned organist, as she makes her Overture Hall debut in a recital this Friday night, March 21, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Overture Center. 

Single tickets are $20, and a special $10 student rush will be offered on the day of the performance.

Janette Fishelle

The program, entitled “Bach and Beyond,” will include organ music composed as far back as the early 1700s, and as recently as 1976, displaying the wonderfully diverse repertoire at the hands of the modern organist. (Below is photo of the beautiful, custom-built Klais concert organ in Overture Hall.)

Overture Concert Organ overview

Three pieces by J.S. Bach are included on the program: the Prelude and Fugue in G minor, BWV 535; selections from the Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001; and the Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552 (you can hear it at the bottom in a YouTube video). The works will exhibit the Baroque style in which the organ, on which Bach was a master, flourished.

Fishell will then move on to three works composed in the late 1800s or later:  Ethyl Smyth’s “O Trauerigkeit, O Herzeleid”; Lionel Rogg’s Partita sopra “Nun Freut Euch”; and Louis Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 3 in F-sharp minor, Op. 28. The works will display the intriguing evolution of organ music in recent centuries.

Janettte Fishell has been described as “…a tour de force” (The Diapason) and “…fabulous…flawless!” (comments from a National Convention of the American Guild of Organists). She is a seasoned recitalist, having performed in many of the world’s greatest concert venues in Tokyo, Cambridge, Berlin, Budapest and Prague.

She has been featured at five national conventions and five regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and is professor of music and chair of the organ department at the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

The concert is sponsored by John and Christine Gauder, with additional funds from Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation and the Diane Endres Ballweg Fund.

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Classical music: This coming Sunday is busy with lots of live concerts from Con Vivo, Sound Ensemble Wisconsin and Edgewood College as well as Wisconsin Public Radio and the Pro Arte Quartet. Plus, on Saturday afternoon the Percussion Ensemble of Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) performs its annual EXTRAVAGANZA concert.

February 27, 2014
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ALERT: On Saturday at 1 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (WYSO) Percussion Ensemble will perform the 13th annual Percussion ‘EXTRAVAGANZA’  in the UW Humanities Building. Directed by Vicki Peterson Jenks, the WYSO Percussion Ensemble is comprised of 12 talented young percussionists and one bassist from Madison, Middleton, Verona, Viroqua, Mount Horeb, DeForest, and Barneveld. (See the impressive individual profiles in the YouTube video at the bottom.) 

WYSO will donate part of proceeds to support the American Red Cross Badger Chapter.

The concert features special guest artist Steve Houghton. A Kenosha, Wis., native, Houghton is an internationally renowned jazz drummer, percussionist, clinician, author and educator who is currently a professor at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of MusicAlso joining the WYSO Percussion Ensemble in guest appearances will be two WYSO alumni, composer and pianist Jon D. Nelson and bassist Sam Olson – both Sun Prairie natives – the UW World Percussion Ensemble, UW-Madison Professor of Saxophone Les Thimming, and WYSO student flugelhorn player Noah Mennenga.

Tickets for the 2014 WYSO Percussion EXTRAVGANZA! are $10 for adults, $5 for youth (18 and under) and can be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the start of the concert. For more information, contact the WYSO office at (608) 263-3320. Parking is available at State Street Campus Ramp, Helen C. White Hall, and Grainger Hall parking facilities. You can also visit:

http://wyso.music.wisc.edu

WYSO Percussion Ensemble 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What a close friend and colleague calls “train wrecks” — that is, competing or conflicting events and concerts  — just keep on happening.

It is true that choices become more difficult, and more mutually exclusive, as the classical music scene continues to expand in the Madison area.

Take this Sunday, which is normally a pretty quiet day — but NOT this week.

Of course, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Pro Arte Quartet (below) will give the second premiere performance of Belgian composer Benoit Mernier’s String Quartet No. 3 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen.” It will air live from the FREE concert in Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

But check out these other events:

SALProArteMay2010

CON VIVO

At 2:30 p.m., the ensemble Con Vivo (“Music with Life) continues its 12th season of chamber music with a concert entitled “Germanic Gems” at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, across from Camp Randall.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students.

The program includes the First Suite for Solo Cello by Johann Sebastian Bach; a duet for violin and viola by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and the “Fairy Tales” Trio for clarinet, viola and piano by Robert Schumann. The program will also feature the outstanding church organ with duets for violin and organ by Joseph Rheinberger, a solo work for organ by 17th-century composer Johann Reincken, and “Ein Alterblatt” (An Old Page), a romantic piece for violin, viola, cello and organ by Ferdinand Manns.

To round out the afternoon’s offering, Con Vivo will perform a quintet for clarinet, two violas, cello and piano by a mystery composer who will be reveled at the concert!

Audience members are invited to join musicians after the concert for a free reception to discuss this chamber music literature and to hear about their Carnegie Hall debut this past December.

Con Vivo is a professional chamber music ensemble comprised of Madison area musicians assembled from the ranks of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and various other performing groups familiar to Madison audiences. 

Con Vivo core musicians

EDGEWOOD CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

Also at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra will perform in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, on Madison’s near west side.      

Admission is $5 for the public; free with Edgewood College ID.

The orchestra will perform under the direction of music conductor Blake Walter (below). The program of masterworks includes the Symphony No. 7 by Ludwig van Beethoven; the Orchestral Suite No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach; and the Overture to “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

blake walter john maniaci

Included in the program is a special performance of the Piano Concerto in D Major by Franz Joseph Haydn. It will be performed by the recent Madison Memorial High School alumna Johanna Novich-Leonard (below), winner of the Edgewood College Student Concerto Competition.

Johanna Novich Leonard

SOUND ENSEMBLE WISCONSIN

At 6 p.m., Sound Ensemble Wisconsin (SEW) will be collaborating with Chef Dan Bonanno and poet Katrin Talbot (below in a photo with violinist Mary Theodore on the far right holding a violin bow) for a “delicious” event at A Pig in a Fur Coat restaurant, located at 940 Williamson Street, Madison, WI, 53703. Phone is (608) 316-3300.

SEW poet, chef and violin

Tickets are currently on sale at www.sewmusic.org and are $105 per person or $100 by check (with guests’ names) to:  Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, 716 Edgewood Avenue, Madison, WI 53711. Performing musicians (below) are SEW members and incude violinists Mary Theodore and Mary Perkinson, violist Chris Dozoryst, and cellist Maggie Townsend.

More information and tickets are available at www.sewmusic.org.

SEW dinner group photo

Here is an excellent story written by Gayle Worland of The Wisconsin State Journal:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/music/a-menu-of-music/article_7668c3ef-b514-546a-9be5-e25aab9a0a70.html

And here is the SEW press release:

“What does food sound like?  What does music taste like?

“Participants enjoy a lovely evening out as they explore their senses as the pathway to their souls through the performing arts of food and music, accompanied by poetry.  “SEWing Taste and Sound, Bite by Byte” is a collaboration between Sound Ensemble Wisconsin, Chef Dan Bonanno of Madison’s celebrated Pig in a Fur Coat, and SEW’s 2013-14 Artist-in-Residence, who is Madison poet and violist Katrin Talbot.

“The event centers around the aesthetic similarities of food and music, both of which Mary Theodore, SEW’s director and violinist, considers performing arts.  SEW has based the evening on a movement from a Beethoven String Quartet, Op. 18 No. 5, Andante Cantabile, that is a theme and variations.

“Each variation, or byte of music, will inspire Chef Bonnano and be paired with one course, or bite, of food — and performed and served as such to create a seven-course meal, including a beverage pairing for each course.

“For example, the third variation, which might remind one of a bubbling brook with a contrast of smooth, running water and sunlight glistening through the trees as well as a touch of sweetness, has inspired Chef Bonanno to create a smooth, creamy risotto with fresh blueberries and sweetbreads.

A Pig in a Fur Coat logo

“Katrin Talbot will also read poems composed for each variation.

“At the end of the meal, SEW musicians will perform the quartet movement from beginning to end with the aim of offering participants a new experience of the music, a new journey of taste and sound.

“As a large part of SEW’s mission is to bring more people to classical music, SEW makes an effort to demonstrate that music can be found in many things that we experience every day.

“SEW achieves this by collaborating with other artists, institutions, etc. through innovative programming and authentic events.  Also, as SEW’s founding principle is that music is a vital part of humanity and should serve everyone, the ensemble strives to both offer engaging and unique programming to regular participants (their term for “audience”), as well as to offer music to those who might not have access to it otherwise.

“As part of the March 2 program, SEW will be performing during dinner hour at a food pantry and offering two free tickets to the Sunday event.  As a side note, SEW also played at a correctional facility as a precursor to their last event.”

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Classical music: The Pacifica Quartet’s third volume of “The Soviet Experience” and Dmitri Shostakovich string quartets is yet another MUST-HEAR and MUST-BUY recording from this top-notch Midwestern chamber music group.

August 1, 2013
3 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

There are so many reasons to like the third 2-CD installment of a projected four volumes of “The Soviet Experience,” (below) performed by the Pacifica String Quartet and recorded by the non-profit Cedille Records that is based in Chicago and specializes in regional artists.

Pacifica Quartet Soviet Vol 3

I suppose one has to start with the music and the performances.

Suffice it to say that I have never heard the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich (below) performed with such appeal and subtlety as by this group. These performances grab and hold your attention as much as the music does. (See the YouTube video at bottom with a member of the Pacifica explaining the appeal of Shostakovich.)

dmitri shostakovich

Yes, I much admire and often listen to the Grammy-winning set by the Emerson String Quartet. And I also like the softer readings by the St. Petersburg Quartet. But there is something special about these performances from the Pacifica Quartet (below).

pacifica quartet

For one, I find the Pacifica projects a lot of subtlety, flexibility and nuances, and also emphasizes a certain a traditional Russian sound or musicality that extended right into Soviet music.

That is, the Pacifica Quartet – the members are now artists-in-residence at the famed Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University — has been acclaimed for its compete Mendelssohn quartet cycle and for a terrific turn-of-the century recital (“Declarations,” below) of music by Leos Janacek, Ruth Crawford Seeger and Paul Hindemith.

pacifica quartet %22declarations%22 CD

Most of that music is much less dark than Shostakovich’s. But the members of the Pacifica Quartet can be as modern, spiky and aggressive as Shostakovich’s music demands; yet the quartet also knows when to interject a contrasting lyricism that can be traced back to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

I am especially partial to this latest release. The third volume has my favorite Shostakovich quartet – No. 14 in F-sharp-minor – that is short and with seven uninterrupted movements and a cyclic structure you can easily discern.

Some listeners might prefer the first volume (below) because it has the most famous of the 16 Shostakovich quartets — No. 8 in C minor dedicated to victims of fascism, by which the composer meant both Nazi and Soviet cruelty and terror.

Pacifica Quartet Soviet Experience Vol. 1

Others might prefer volume No. 2 (below) that includes some of the first big and mature quartets.

Pacifica Quartet Soviet Experience 2 CD

I say get all three and also the fourth, which is supposed to be released this October and will complete the Shostakovich cycle with Quartets 13, 14 and 15 plus Alfred Schnittke’s String Quartet No. 3.

But here are other reasons to like this 2-CD recording.

The packaging, art and liner notes by David Fanning are all first-rate. The timings are generally very generous.

The engineering is superb, with a sonic presence that makes it sound like the quartet is playing right in front of you. There is no reverb or resonance allowed for since your own livingroom or car interior IS the playback venue.

In fact, I am particularly fond of the engineering because the freelancer producer and engineer is Judith Sherman. She is a legend in the business for winning several Grammy awards.

Plus, Sherman (below) is the engineer for the four commissions by the University of Wiscosin-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet for its centennial two seasons. They includes quartets by Walter Mays and John Harbison, and piano quintets by Paul Schoenfield and William Bolcom.

Judith Sherman Grammy 2012

The Pro Arte Quartet’s 2-CD centennial commission set will be released on Albany Records this fall. And Sherman has told The Ear that the Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a recording session for Sherman,  who si adjusting microphones in Mills Hall) at the UW-Madison is the equal of any she has recorded and could well be nominated for a Grammy since the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences favors new contemporary works, small labels and unknown performers – all of which apply to the Pro Arte commissions.

Judith Sherman with Pro Arte

But back to the Pacifica’s Soviet CD.

It is worth recalling that Shostakovich’s 15 string quartets served roughly the same purpose at Beethoven’s cycle of 16: a workshop or laboratory to work out ideas and confide private thoughts and techniques that might be too revolutionary or unsuitable for other genres and bigger public consumption.

But I like that more than being a survey of just the Shostakovich quartets, each volume includes a quartet by as contemporary composer of Shostakovich –- Sergei Prokofiev, Nikolai Myaskovsky and Mieczslaw Weinberg. That program format helps to put a frame around the picture and show what makes Shostakovich so distinctive and original in his time and also gives a sense of that terrible time so that you can also hear what similarities he shares with his contemporaries. 

To be fair, The Ear is not alone in his praise for this recording.

The BBC Music Magazine singled out the CD for a Recording of the Month award.

Here is a link:

http://www.classical-music.com/monthly-choice/shostakovich-string-quartets

And the Telegraph newspaper of London also raved about it. Here is a link to that review, reproduced in a newsletter from Indiana University:

http://blogs.music.indiana.edu/strings/2013/06/13/pacifica-quartet-receives-rave-review-in-londons-telegraph-for-the-soviet-experience-vol-3-cd/

When that many discerning a critics agree, you can be pretty sure that this is a recording that is a must-have and must-hear.


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