The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: This week brings Baroque music from Just Bach this Wednesday at noon and Sonata a Quattro next Sunday afternoon

November 17, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

This week brings authentic Baroque music from two newer groups that employ period instruments and historically informed performance practices: Just Bach and Sonata a Quattro.

The concert for November by Just Bach (below, in a photo by John W. Barker, takes place this Wednesday, Nov. 20, from noon to 12:30 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave, in Madison.

The performance is free and open to the public, with a good will offering collected.

Performers are: Sarah Brailey, soprano; Lindsey Meekhof, mezzo-soprano; Thore Dosdall, tenor; Paul Rowe, baritone; Linda Pereksta, flute; Kangwon Lee Kim and Nathan Giglierano, violins; Marika Fischer Hoyt, viola; James Waldo, cello; and Mark Brampton Smith, organ.

The program opens with the six-minute instrumental Sinfonia from Cantata 209. Just Bach favorite Linda Pereksta will be the featured flute soloist, backed up by the strings-and-organ band. (You can hear the Sinfonia in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Cantata 151 ‘Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kommt‘ (Sweet comfort, my Jesus comes) closes the program. Each of the first four movements of this cantata features a different vocal soloist — the serene soprano aria also boasts a lovely flute obbligato — concluding with the chorale in which all take part.

Those who attend are invited to “bring your lunch, bring your ears and your voice, bring a friend, but most of all bring yourself to this stirring program of J.S. Bach.”

The next Just Bach program is Wednesday, Dec. 18, at noon.

For more information, go to:


This week the Madison-based group Sonata à Quattro (below) will give two performances of its program “A Dark and Stormy Night”:

The program is:

  • Motet: “In furore iustissimae irae” (In the fury of most righteous wrath), RV 626 by Antonio Vivaldi
  • Quartet No. 1 in D Major by Johann Joachim Quantz
  • Cello Sonata in C Minor, Book II No. 6 by Jean-Baptiste Barrière
  • Concerto for 4 in D Minor, TWV 43:d2 by Georg Philipp Telemann
  • Cantata 209: “Non sa che sia dolore” (He does not know what sorrow is) by Johann Sebastian Bach

Sonata à Quattro performers are: Christine Hauptly Annin and Nathan Giglierano, violins; Marika Fischer Hoyt, viola; Charlie Rasmussen, cello; Daniel Sullivan, harpsichord; and Kristin Knutson, soprano. Special guest artist is flutist Linda Pereksta (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot).

Says founder and violist Marika Fischer Hoyt (below): “Join us for a program of dark and stormy pieces, on period-instruments. Sonata à Quattro’s third season opens with a program exploring the darker side of human experience, from Vivaldi’s motet, burning with godly rage, to Bach’s secular Cantata, deploring the departure of a beloved friend.

“Quantz’ bubbly Flute Quartet in D Major provides some needed moments of optimism, before we turn to the poignant, brooding Cello Sonata by Barrière. Even the viola gets a turn, in the Telemann, to unfold a haunting saga of tragic beauty.

“But the composers do not leave us in despair; each one leads the listener through the dark night of the soul, to the morning after.”

The Bach Cantata opens with an instrumental Sinfonia, heard in the YouTube video at the bottom, that features flutist Linda Pereksta, who also plays in the works by Quantz and Telemann.

For more information, go to:


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Classical music: Two performances of the annual Winter Choral Concert, to benefit the homeless, are this Sunday afternoon at 2 and 4. Other UW groups also perform during a busy end-of-semester week

November 29, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

As always happens towards the end of a semester, the tempo of the performances at the UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music picks up and accelerates.

One highlight this week is two performances of a traditional choral concert.

Under conductor and UW choral program director Beverly Taylor (below), six of seven UW-Madison choirs — Chorale, Concert Choir, Madrigal Singers, University Chorus, Women’s Chorus, Masters Singers – will perform their annual winter concert twice this Sunday afternoon.

The two performances, at 2 and 4 p.m., will be at Luther Memorial Church, located at 1021 University Avenue.

Consider arriving early since these concerts are often very well attended.

Choirs will perform choral works as individual ensembles and jointly.

Holiday carols are part of the program and concert-goers are invited to sing along.

Sorry, but no composers or titles of works have been provided.

Professor John Chappell Stowe (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will perform organ music for the season.

A free-will offering is accepted at the end of the program with proceeds after expenses donated to “The Road Home,” an organization that provides housing and food to homeless families.


At 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, guest artists flutist Patricia Surman (below) and pianist Michel Keller will give a FREE recital. There is no word on the program, but if you want to know more background about the two musicians, go to:


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW bassoonist Marc Vallon (below top, in a photo by James Gill) will perform a FREE program called “Breaking New Ground” that features the music of Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, Anton Webern and Yannis Xenakis among others. UW pianist Christopher Taylor (below bottom) will also play the last piano sonata, No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111, by Ludwig van Beethoven.

For the complete program, go to:



At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the All-University Strings (below in a photo by Jeff Miller of the UW-Madison), which is made up of students from all fields and not just music, will perform a FREE concert under conductor Matt Chan. No word on composers or works on the program.


At 12:30 p.m. in the Brittingham Gallery No. 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art, the Wingra Wind Quartet will perform on “Sunday Live at the Chazen.” Admission is free.

The program includes: “Piano Piece” by Richard Strauss and arranged by Marc Vall0n; Wind Quintet by Theodor Blumer; “Eight Etudes and a Fantasy for Woodwind Quartet” by Elliott Carter; “Opus Number Zoo” by Luciano Berio.

Members (below, from left, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) are: Marc Vallon, bassoon; Timothy Hagen, flute;  Alicia Lee, clarinet; Aaron Hill, oboe; and Joanna Schulz, horn.

You can digitally stream the concert live by going to this website:

For more background about the Wingra Wood Quintet, go to:

At 1 p.m in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Band (below top), under conductor Scott Teeple, will perform a FREE concert.The program features UW trombonist Mark Hetzler (below bottom). The program includes “Psalm for Band” by Vincent Persichetti (heard in the YouTube video at the bottom)  “Silver Lining” by Anne McAninch, a UW doctoral student in composition; and “Falling” by Mark Hetzler.

At 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, University Bands will perform a FREE concert. No word on the program.


At 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, the UW Early Music Ensemble, under director Jeanne Swack will mark the 250th anniversary of the death of Baroque composer Georg Philipp Telemann (below) by performing music of Telemann, Johann Joachim Quantz, Barbara Strozzi and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. No word on a specific program. For more information, go to:

Classical music: As the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble approaches its 25th anniversary and goes non-profit, it once again demonstrates its versatility and virtuosity.

December 2, 2013
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ALERT: On this Tuesday, December 3, at 8:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, the UW-Madison Early Music Ensemble, under the direction of  performer sand Telemann scholar Professor Jeanne Swack (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot), will be present a FREE concert of 18th-century chamber music, including works by Benedetto Marcello, Georg Philipp Telemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Joachim Quantz, and Scherer. Here is a link to the UW School of of Music events calendar. Click on the concert listing and read the fascinating and informative notes about the program.

Jeanne Swack

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 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.


By John W. Barker

Despite the distractions of the Thanksgiving weekend, and tricky weather, the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble drew a quite respectable audience of about 60 to its latest concert at the Gates of Heaven historic synagogue in James Madison Park on Saturday night.

That venue may seem austere but the acoustics are splendid, and the scale of its hall matches the spacial qualities of a Baroque salon where cultivated friends would gather to make music together.  That is true “chamber” music. (Judge for yourself by listening to the group performing a work by C.P.E. Bach at the Gates of Heaven in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Gates of Heaven

And that is exactly the spirit that the WBE seeks to recreate, with a pool of excellent specialist performers. Cellist Anton TenWolde (below) has worked to emphasize collegiality, describing his group as a “collective,” with himself as a traffic cop rather than as dictator.  For each program, performers propose pieces that they would like to explore, and the menu is worked out by agreement.

anton tenwolde

The team this time consisted of six instrumentalists and one singer, all of them established WBE veterans. A recurrent Hispanic element was contributed by mezzo-soprano Consuelo Sañudo, who sang three endearing solo numbers of the 17th century, partly from Spain, but one, a Christmas piece, from Mexico.

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

French music was a strong component, with Brett Lipshutz tossing off with flair a sonata for traverso flute by Louis-Antoine Dornel. Also on traverso, Monica Steger joined him for a trio sonata by Jacques-Martin Hotteterre. And gamba player Eric Miller bravely brought to vigorous life a really high-power set of pieces by Antoine Forqueray.

But there was a strong German component as well.  Harpsichordist Max Yount played a multi-fugal keyboard Capriccio by Georg Böhm–the only solo piece (that is, without any bass players) in the program. More-or-less German composers were represented in performances by Theresa Koenig. First, in the best-known of the sonatas for recorder and basso continuo (in A minor) by George Frideric Handel (below top), and then, in a switch of instruments, a probing sonata by Georg Philipp Telemann (below bottom) for bassoon and continuo.

handel big 3

georg philipp telemann

Such versatility was by no means unique in this program.  The amazingly accomplished Steger not only appeared on recorder or traverso but also in the harpsichord continuo role in the two sonatas played by Koenig. In other rotations, gambist Miller and cellist TenWolde took turns as the string player in the ever-present continuo functions.

It has become needless to say that these performers are all skilled musicians.  We are also used to the warm collegiality they display, in sharing music with each other, and with the audience. The program formats, the performing location, have become comfortably familiar to those who are the group’s loyal followers.

But it is ever so easy to take all that for granted.  What needs to be pointed out is the durability of the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble. Building on some earlier groupings and activities, it was founded by TenWolde in 1990, and has been performing ever since. That is to say, it will soon be celebrating its 25th anniversary!

In many ways, the full blossoming of early music activities burst forth with the creation of the annual Madison Early Music Festival in 2000. But for a decade before that, the WBE was busily preparing the ground, and has continued to add depth and nuance to that part of our musical scene 

Such an achievement deserves not only acclaim, but also audience support. The group has become legally incorporated and will seek tax-exempt status. That status that will become official on January 1, 2014, a year before the WBE marks its 25th anniversary. So it is most definitely here to stay, as an important factor in Madison’s musical life.

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