The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Critics for The New York Times name their favorite works by and performers of Richard Strauss. Plus, catch the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra and the Madison Early Music Festival on radio this Sunday.

January 3, 2015
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At 10 a.m, on WORT FM 89.9: The Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) under the direction of Mikko Utevsky will be featured in an hour-long broadcast this coming Sunday (January 4).

The “Summer Voices” concert was recorded live last August 22 at Music Hall on the UW-Madison campus. Included are interviews with MAYCO founder and conductor Mikko Utevsky and guest soprano Caitlin Ruby Miller (below).

The program includes: the Overture to “The Magic Flute” by Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the cantata “Knoxville Summer of 1915” by American composer Samuel Barber; and the Symphony No. 9 in E-Flat Major by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The hosts of Musica Antiqua yielded the final hour of their early music show so that WORT can provide these young musicians with the station’s largest classical music audience.

MAYCO 2014 Caitlin Ruby Miller and Mikko Uevsky

Then at 1 p.m. on Wisconsin Public Radio (88.7 FM in the Madison area and online at Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) will broadcast a concert of 16th-century Renaissance music from Italy inspired by “I Trionfi” by Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). The concert was designed and conducted by Grant Herreid, and was performed at the Madison Early Music Festival’s concluding All-Festival Concert (bel0w) in July 2014 at Luther Memorial Church in Madison. This recording is part of WPR’s new program, “Wisconsin Classical.”

Listen to station 88.7 FM at 1 p.m.or stream it online at

MEMF 2014 All-Festival

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the public’s favorite Late Romantic composers is Richard Strauss, seen below in old age in a photo by H. Hoffmann and Ullstein Bilderdienst.

Richard Strauss  old CR H. Hoffmann Ulstein Biulderdienst

Writing about Strauss is timely, if belatedly so, because 2014 was the 150th anniversary year of his birth.

But better late than never.

Strauss composed in every genre, from orchestra and opera to chamber music, and the last part of his career was controversial because of his involvement with Hitler and Nazi Germany during World War II.

What is your favorite work by Richard Strauss?

Your favorite performances and performers?

Your favorite recordings?

Various critics for The New York Times recently offered their own year-end takes on those questions.

Here is a link:

And here is my favorite Strauss music — the Suite from the opera “Der Rosenkavalier” in a YouTube video — although it is also hard to beat “Four Last Songs” for soprano and orchestra:

Classical music: Choral music, wind music and brass music add to the season-ending events this super-busy weekend.

April 30, 2014
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By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings more season-closers. The groups concluding their concert seasons include the First Unitarian Society of Madison’s FREE Friday Noon Musicales; the Festival Choir of Madison; the UW Chamber Orchestra; and Edgewood College.

Here is a round-up of yet another busy weekend.


On Friday afternoon, from 12:15 to 1 p.m., the last FREE Friday Noon Musicale of the season at the first Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, will feature Driftless Winds, a University of Wisconsin-Platteville Faculty Reed Trio.

Members are Laura Medisky, oboe; Corey Mackey, clarinet; and Jacqueline Wilson, bassoon.

The program, performed in the historic Landmark Auditorium designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, includes music by Wolfgang Amadeus, Jacques Ibert, Erwin Schulhoff and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Bring your lunch; coffee and tea are provided.


On Friday night, the Madison Chamber Choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Presbyterian Church ( . It will be directed by Adam Kluck.

On Friday night, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1609 University Avenue, the University of Wisconsin-Stout Choirs come to Madison on a mini-tour, with a program titled “An Ode To The Bard: Shakespeare in Music.”

The concert will feature musical settings of Shakespeare’s words, popular music of his time (including tunes that are referenced in his plays), and works inspired by the legacy of William Shakespeare (below).

shakespeare BW

Performers include the Stout Symphonic Singers (an open-seat choir of about 30 singers) and the Stout Chamber Choir (an auditioned choir of 20 singers), both directed by composer-conductor Jerry Hui (below), with pianist Michaela Gifford.

Admission is free with a free-will donation welcomed.

Jerry Hui



On Saturday at 11 a.m. at Oakwood Village West, 6209 Mineral Road, on Madison’s far west side, the UW-Stout Choirs will give a second performance of their Friday night program. See directly above.

On Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in Mills Hall, the All-University String Orchestra will perform a FREE concert under conductor Janet Jensen (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot). Sorry, no word on a specific program.

Janet Jensen Katrin Talbot

On Saturday, May 3, at 7 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel at 1000 Edgewood College Drive, the Edgewood Concert Band and Jazz Ensemble will perform under the direction of Walter Rich and Daniel Wallach.  Included will be works by Paul Dukas, Jenkins, Williams, Van der Roost and Franz von Suppe.

Admission is $7 to benefit music scholarships at the college.

Walter Rich  Edgewood Concert Band 2013-3-22-Band

On Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., the FESTIVAL CHOIR OF MADISON (below) will conclude its 40th season in the 
First Baptist Church, 
518 North Franklin Avenue, in Madison. It will perform with the Pecatonica String Quartet and winds, and under the baton of artistic director Bryson Mortensen, who is the Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Rock County.

The program is entitled “Gloria” and features two Glorias: the well-known one by Antonio Vivaldi and a rarely heard one by Luigi Boccherini. A pre-concert lecture, begins at 6:30 p.m. The Ear hears there will also be an encore performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s “Ave Verum Corpus.”

Tickets are $18 general public, $14 for seniors and $8 for students if bought in advance – call (608) 274-7089; the day of the concert, tickets are $20, $15 and $10, respectively.

For more information, visit the link:


On Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Women’s Chorus and the University Chorus will perform a FREE concert under the direction of Anna Volodarskaya and Adam Kluck (below), respectively. Sorry, no word yet on a specific program.

Adam Kluck conducting


On “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., members of the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will perform the second-to–last concert of that series this season. As always it will be broadcast live on Wisconsin Public Radio. The concert itself is FREE in the Brittingham Gallery No. 3. Sorry, no word on a program.


On Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Band will perform a FREE concert under director Mike Leckrone (below). Sorry, no word on the program.


On Sunday, May 4, at 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, the Chamber Singers, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir and Campus-Community Choir.

Kathleen Otterson (below) will conduct the Women’s Choir, while Albert Pinsonneault will lead the Chamber Singers, Campus-Community Choir, and Men’s Choir.

Kathleen Otterson 2

Pinsonneault (below) will also conduct the combined choirs and the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s “Te Deum.”

Admission is $7 to benefit music scholarships at Edgewood.

Albert Pinsonneault 2

On Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. in Music Hall, at the foot of Bascom Hill, the Lincoln Chamber Brass of Chicago will perform a FREE concert, just a week before they compete at the prestigious Fischoff Chamber Music Competition.

All of them are members of Civic Orchestra of Chicago; at 21, the horn player already substitutes for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Four are students at Northwestern University, the fifth at DePaul. Four of the five, including Ansel Norris, who was born in Madison and in high school studied with UW-Madison trumpeter John Aley, will attend the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival this summer.

Musicians of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. 
The program includes Victor Ewald’s Brass Quintet No. 3; David Sampson’s “Morning Music”; Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” (arranged by Barker); and Giles Farnaby’s Suite of Dances.

Members (below, from left) are Ansel Norris and William Cooper, trumpets;
 Kevin Haseltine, horn; 
Joseph Peterson, trombone; and Scott Hartman, bass trombone.

For more information, visit:

lincoln chamber brass  madison shot

At 7:30 in Mills Hall, the UW Chamber Orchestra (below) will perform its last concert of the season and its last concert before being either mothballed or terminated.

The performance is FREE and will be under the baton of director James Smith.

The program includes: Jacques Ibert’s “Hommage to Mozart”; Richard Strauss’ “Dance Suite After Francois Couperin”; and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E Fat Major. (In a YouTube video at the bottom, you can hear the first movement performed by the legendary conductor Karl Bohm and the Vienna Philharmonic.)

For more about the news significance of the event, here is a link to yesterday’s blog post:

uw chamber orchestra USE

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Classical music: This past Thursday, January 5th, was a big day for modern piano giants and birthday boys Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Alfred Brendel and Maurizio Pollini. Have fun and hear them at their best.

January 7, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

This past Thursday, January 5th, was a big day for classical pianists, with three of the most famous ones of the 20th and 21st centuries celebrating important birthdays.

Can you guess which three pianos virtuosos we are talking about?

They are: Maurizio Pollini, who turned 70 (below):

Alfred Brendel, who turned 81 (below):

And the late Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (below) who would have turned  92:

Here is a link to a site at NPR with the answers and three sample videos of the three keyboard titans playing.

And here is a link to something I really like — a story about and appreciation of Pollini that includes the special set of recordings that  Deutsche Grammophon has reissued to mark Pollini’s birthday:

And here is the DG press release about the boxed sets, which are go on sale Jan. 10:

2012 is a momentous year for famed Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini: not only will he celebrate his 70th birthday (January 5) but the year also marks the 60th anniversary of his first public performance. (Early in his career, Pollini also studied with Michelangeli.)

“His career has spanned two generations of pianists and audiences and he continues today performing throughout North America, Europe and Asia.  Deutsche Grammophon’s relationship with the pianist extends back to his Yellow Label debut in 1971 and continues today.

“To celebrate these milestones Deutsche Grammophon has prepared a number of retrospective releases and looks forward to new recordings.

“The Art of Maurizio Pollini” (below, available January 10) is a 3-CD, deluxe package set which chronicles the breadth of Pollini’s performance and recording career. The limited-edition hardcover set includes repertoire chosen personally by Pollini and consists of complete works (not extracts) ranging from Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” and Chopin’s Op. 25 Études to complete concertos by Beethoven and Mozart.  As an added bonus, DG has included the 1960 performance of Chopin’s First Piano Concerto from the International Chopin Competition – a performance that ensured Pollini’s victory at the young age of only 18.  Click here for the complete tracklisting.

Though Pollini has not wanted to be termed a “specialist” of any one type of music, he has remained fascinated over the past 50 years notably with the music of Chopin and works written in the 20th-century.  Although the two seem rather different they speak to Pollini’s curiosity and his artistically rich childhood.

“I grew up in a house with art and artists,” Pollini told The Guardian’s Nicholas Wroe. “Old works and modern works co-existed together as part of life. It went without saying.” Here is a link to the complete story by Nicholas Wroe:

To honor these passions Deutsche Grammophon has already released two box sets: Chopin and 20th Century.  The Chopin box (below, 9 CDs) includes complete recordings of Études, Préludes, Polonaises, Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3, Nocturnes and much more.  Click here for complete information on the Chopin box.

The 20th Century box (below, 6 CDs) includes Pollini’s debut for the Yellow Label and works from composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Webern, Boulez, Nono, Manzoni, Schoenberg, Bartók and Debussy.  Click here for complete information on the 20th Century box.

Late last year, Deutsche Grammophon released Pollini’s third recording of the Brahms Piano Concerto no. 1 in D minor, op. 15 (below).  For this live recording Pollini was joined, for the first time on DG, by Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden.  This unique collaboration brought together two musical giants for one very special event.  This concerto is the same work that Pollini performed for his Staatskapelle debut in 1976 and 35 years later his interpretation has inevitably grown and changed.  Since that debut he has performed the work with a number of great maestros including Karl Böhm and Claudio Abbado, both of whom Pollini has previously recorded the work with on the Yellow Label.

Together Deutsche Grammophon and Pollini look forward to a new recording of works by Chopin for release later this year.  Chopin has always figured prominently in the pianist’s career and he constantly strives to find new and different meanings within the works.  At a recent recital The Guardian wrote: “… he still plays Chopin with the ease that floored even Rubinstein more than 50 years ago…”

Deutsche Grammophon is proud of its lengthy and continuing relationship with Maurizio Pollini and celebrates his tremendous artistry on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

Check out the link on both stories.


Which of the three pianists do you like the most?

Do you have favorite performances by each of them?

Let us know which pieces and which recordings?

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