The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television again ring in the New Year with music — but too late. Plus, tomorrow morning WORT broadcasts a recording of the Willy Street Chamber Players

December 30, 2015
2 Comments

ALERT: The Ear’s friend and radio host colleague Rich Samuels writes: “I’ll be airing the performance of Felix Mendelssohn‘s Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20, by the Willy Street Chamber Players (below)  on this Thursday morning (Dec.  31) at 7:14 on my “Anything Goes” broadcast on WORT-FM 88.9.  (It was recorded July 31, 2015 by WORT at Madison’s Immanuel Lutheran Church). I think this was the high point of the ensemble’s inaugural season. It’s nice to know WSCP will be back next summer and that they have a special event scheduled on Jan. 23 and 24.” 

willy street chamber players b&w

By Jacob Stockinger

Today’s post is just a simple reminder of the various programs that Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television will soon air to once again ring in the New Year with classical music.

Both organizations are outstanding friends of classical music, although sometimes The Ear wishes there was more music and fewer British mysteries — which this year interfere with arts programming and push music broadcasts later.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

On Thursday night from 10 to 11:30 p.m., Wisconsin Public Television will air an all-French program from New York City with Alan Gilbert (below top) conducting the New York Philharmonic and guest soloist mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (below bottom). “Live From Lincoln Center” will broadcast “La Vie Parisienne” (Parisian Life) program includes music by Jacques Offenbach and Camille Saint-Saens.

New York Philharmonic

Susan Graham USE

Also featured are classical pianist Inon Barnatan (below top), who performed a recital for the Wisconsin Union Theater, and jazz pianist Makoto Ozone (below bottom) in “The Carnival of the Animals.”

Inon Barnatan

makoto.ozone.01

The Ear likes the program and wonders if it was decided before or after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

However, The Ear is very disappointed by the late hour of the airing. It would be better if young people and children could hear and see it. He would much prefer prime-time broadcasts from 8 to 9:30 p.m. or maybe 9 to 10:30 p.m.

What do readers think?

La vie parisienne

NEW YEAR’S DAY

On Friday morning from 10 a.m. to noon, Wisconsin Public Radio will air a broadcast from Vienna’s Golden Hall (below) of “New Year’s Concert From Vienna,” with waltzes and polkas by the Strauss family as well as some other music.

New Year 2015 Golden Hall

This is the 75th anniversary of the event that will be broadcast to more than 90 countries and seen by some 50 million people. It is billed as the world’s largest classical music event.

Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons, who leads the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam and appears regularly with major orchestras around the world, is returning for his third stint as the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic for this program.

mariss jansons 2015

Here is a link with more information, which is hard and confusing to find on the website (look under Seasonal Programming, not the regular schedule):

http://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/en

In the afternoon from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and in the evening form 10 to 11:30 p.m., the 32nd annual television version of “Great Performances” will be broadcast by Wisconsin Public Television. Actress Julie Andrews (below) returns to host for the seventh time, and dancers from the Vienna State Ballet will be featured along with great landscape shots of Vienna and its historical landmarks.

And of course there will be the final clap-along encore: The Radetzky March, which you can hear conducted by Daniel Barenboim in a YouTube video at the bottom.

Julie Andrews

Once again, The Ear recalls that it used to air at a much earlier, more family-friendly hour.

For more information, go to:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/from-vienna-the-new-years-celebration-2016/4440/

Maybe next year will see earlier broadcast times and more information about the programs and broadcast’s duration on the web and the regular radio schedule.


Classical music: Dance into 2015 this morning and tonight with waltzes and more from Vienna on public radio and TV.

January 1, 2015
1 Comment

By Jacob Stockinger

Just a holiday reminder.

Today is New Year’s Day. That brings the annual “Great Performances” presentation of the “New Year’s Day From Vienna” celebration — with waltzes, polkas, gallops and more by the Johann Strauss Family – on PBS and NPR (National Public Radio).

Vienna Philharmonic

It will all be performed in the Golden Hall (below top) by the Vienna Philharmonic with former Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta (below middle) this year, along  with the usual help from the Vienna State Ballet and Broadway and Hollywood star host Julie Andrews (below bottom).

Vienna Golden Hall

Zubin Mehta

Julie Andrews 3

And it will be broadcast TWICE today:

ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO (WPR): THIS MORNING at 10 a.m.  New Year’s Concert from ViennaThe Vienna Philharmonic presents its annual New Year’s celebration.

ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION (WPT): TONIGHT from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the main channel Channel 21/Cable 600 the program will also be run, with dancers and scenic landscape shots. (The Wisconsin Channel will run it from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) It comes, by the way, after an all-day marathon that starts at 9 a.m. and  features all eight episodes of Season Four of “Downton Abbey.” Season Five starts on Sunday night.

And the concert’s typical ending is the poplar clap-along, audience-pleaser: The Radetzky March, heard below in a performance from New York’s Day in Vienna in a popular YouTube video.


Classical music: Happy New Year to you from The Ear, from Beethoven and from Spain.

January 1, 2013
5 Comments

A REMINDER: The  annual “New Year’s Day Concert From Vienna” (below) with the Vienna Philharmonic under conductor Franz Welser-Most and with TV host Julie Andrews will air this morning on NPR (and Wisconsin Public Radio) at 10 a.m. this morning with the TV version airing tonight on PBS (and Wisconsin Public Television) at 7 p.m. For more information and links to a play list of Strauss family waltzes and polkas plus works by Verdi and Wagner and lots of background, visit:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/classical-music-lets-get-ready-for-new-years-day-from-vienna-concert-on-radio-ad-tv-what-is-the-allure-of-the-waltz-waltz-meister-andre-rieu-discusses-the-allure/

Vienna Golden Hall

By Jacob Stockinger

Today, Jan. 1, 2013, is New Year’s Day.

The past year was not an easy year in so many ways.

Especially disappointing is the increasing polarization or partisanship one sees not only in the US but also around the world. I myself fear for the rise of right-wing fanaticism (often signaled by hatred of immigrants, a callousness toward social welfare and the oppression of minorities) in Greece and elsewhere because of economic situations. Economic strife often leads to war or other forms of strife and suffering. (Below is a CNN photo of an austerity protest riot in Greece.)

riot protest in Greece 2012

One can only  hope for much better in 2013.

So that makes this “flash mob” performance of Beethoven (below) all the more appropriate and moving. It certainly was an emotional experience for and for the very old friend who sent it on to me — as well as for the more than 8 million viewers so far on YouTube.

Beethoven big

It is the perfect piece – or, to be precise, the perfect excerpt of the perfect piece – in words and music — performed in a perfect way that was commissioned by Banco Sabadell in Barcelona to mark its 130th anniversary, I believe.

It is the “Ode to Joy” and finale from Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 9 “Choral.”

What a great gift to all of us! So  pass it on. Link to it. Forward it. Facebook or Twitter it. But see that other people you know and care about experience this flash mob video.

It gives one hope – especially at a time when Spain, like so many other countries, in undergoing the trials, tribulations and testing of austerity.

Judge for yourself – be sure to look at the facial expressions of the children and the ordinary people who just pass by and stop to take it all in. You can see that great music connects and bonds.

And let us know what you think by leaving something in the COMMENTS section.

Happy New Year to you! May Peace, Joy and Prosperity be in abundance in 2013.


Classical music: Are you ready for the “New Year’s Day From Vienna” concert on radio and TV on Tuesday. Waltz meister Andre Rieu discusses the allure of the dance that made him famous –- and the dance we greet the New Year with.

December 30, 2012
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear suspects that many of this blog’s readers don’t take Waltz Meister Andre Rieu (below) very seriously as a classical musician. And you can understand why, given all the shmalz, schlock and PBS fundraisers he is known for.

Andre Rieu

Yet the indisputable fact remains that Andre Rieu — a violinist, conductor and audience-friendly, Lawrence Welk-like showman extraordinaire — is an extremely popular and gifted musician, one of today’s heirs of Johann Strauss.

And there is no denying the classical status of the waltz, a dance that was often used by Carl Maria von Weber, Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and so many other major classical composers. And the list grows enormously if you add other dance forms that are close to the waltz in its peasant origins and then in its morphing into an aristocratic dance form, probably perfected in Vienna (below).

Waltzing in Vienna 1

And let’s not forget the news peg.

This week, on Tuesday, we celebrate the New Year – the coming of 2013.

That means another audience favorite, that compilation of classical pop hits known as “New Year’s Day From Vienna: 2013” that will air again on National Public Radio (and Wisconsin Public Radio) on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. CST; and then again on PBS TV (and Wisconsin Public Television) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

This year’s version of the famous concert celebration that started in 1939 once again features the Vienna Philharmonic playing in its home, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna (below).

Golden Hall in Vienna

The guest conductor this year is Austrian-born Franz Welser-Most (below top), the controversial maestro who heads the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. The TV host again is Julie Andrews (below bottom).

Franz Welser Most

Julie Andrews 3

Here is a link with more information including a play list that includes not only the Strauss family (Josef, Johann Sr. and Johann Jr.) but also von Suppe, Verdi and Wagner. 2013 marks the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner.

Here is a link to the radio broadcast notes:

http://www.wgbh.org/articles/New-Years-Day-from-Vienna-2013-5202

And here is a link to the TV broadcast notes:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/from-vienna-the-new-year’s-celebration-2013/about-the-concert/1478/

And here is Andre Rieu on the power of the many waltzes that will once again captivate a huge worldwide audience:

http://www.npr.org/2012/12/15/167294665/andre-rieu-on-the-allure-of-the-waltz


Classical music review: Blog reader Igor was also at Lola Astanova’s Carnegie hall recital and says the mainstream critics got it right when they panned it.

February 5, 2012
7 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

You may recall that a couple of week ago, I posted stories about the Carnegie Hall recital debut to benefit the American Cancer Society (with guest celebrities Donald Trump and Julie Andrew) by 28-year-old Uzbekistan-born pianist Lola Astanova (below), who likes to perform in the latest fashions and who is not shy about promoting herself and her good looks to further her concert career. (That is why she also invites comparison to pianist Yuja Wang.)

Here is a link to that first post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/classical-music-news-will-lola-astanova-outstrip-yuja-wang-as-the-sexiest-pianist-today-will-lola-or-yuja-become-the-lady-gaga-of-classical-music/

Then a week later, I posted a number of reviews of that recital. Most of the critics said it was so-so, though a couple were more enthusiastic. Here is a link to that second post:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/classical-music-reviews-of-pianist-lola-astanova-dont-sparkle-as-brightly-as-her-tiffany-jewels-she-played-vladimir-horowitzs-concert-grand-but-she-is-no-vladimir-horowitz/

But subsequently I heard from two listeners who each attended the recital and were there on the spot.

Now, of course, we all know how unreliable eyewitnesses can be, thanks to the many death-penalty reversals secured around the U.S. by The Innocence Project. Eyewitness testimony, and “ear-witness” testimony too, has long known to be notoriously unreliable. So have critics’ assessments and reviews.

Add in the subjectivity of the arts and both the person making the art and the person consuming it, and the question of reliability is compounded.

In any case I want to offer two sides, one pro and one con, from two people who both attended the recital.

You can make up your own mind which one is right, or if the truth lies somewhere in between.

Yesterday, I featured Alexander Grey who wrote at length and thoughtfully to the blog, in two installments.

Here is a different and dissenting or disgreeing review, one that backs up the mainstream viewers, form the blog reader Igor:

Igor writes:

People at the concert were NOT experienced concert-goers – quite the opposite, which was very easy to determine: Most of them applauded at the end of each movement of Chopin’s “Funeral March” Sonata.

No, not from enthusiasm.

The audience simply was not informed that the end of a movement is not the end of the piece. Many of them attended a classical concert for the first time, all for different reasons – relation to the American Cancer Society, celebrity names involved, etc.

A lot of people left at the intermission – a fact that was mentioned by few reviewers and newspapers. The concert was listed as “sold out” at the day of performance – but large amount of tickets was just given out as an invitation, with purpose to fill out the hall.

There is an artificial and extremely aggressive attempt to impose this particular pianist as a “star” – even though she does not have any previous credits to put on her bio – no competitions, no significant public performances (the one with Gergiev (below) was a private initiative), no trace of any professional music management company interested or involved.

To give a credit to the girl, I must say that she definitely has personality and courage. Her behavior on stage (below) was, indeed, provocative – yet it had very little connection with what was played at the moment. But she does not SOUND like someone who is interested in music – bling seems to be much more important, and some piano skills just come to serve this goal.

Carnegie Hall can be rented for various purposes, especially for a benefit concert like that. Money can push media exposure. It can even hire a group of people writing good reviews – not in major newspapers like The New York Times, of course.

It takes Horowitz (below) to make a piano sound like Horowitz piano, you know.


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