The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: A busy week at the UW-Madison brings the debut of a new conducting professor with the UW Symphony Orchestra plus a major voice recital, a string quintet and two master classes.

October 2, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

It will be a busy week for classical music in Madison, especially at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music.

Certainly the standout event is the debut of Chad Hutchinson (below). He is the new conducting teacher and succeeds James Smith.

The FREE concert by the UW Symphony Orchestra will take place on Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall.

The intriguing program features the Prelude to the opera “Die Meistersinger” by Richard Wagner (you can hear George Solti perform it with the Vienna Philharmonic the YouTube video at the bottom); the orchestral arrangement by Leopold Stokowski of the piano prelude “The Sunken Cathedral” by Claude Debussy; the “Mothership,” with electronics, by the American composer Mason Bates; and the Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” by Ludwig van Beethoven, a work that was recently voted the best symphony ever written by more than a hundred conductors.

Here is a link to more about Hutchinson’s impressive background:

And here is a schedule of other events at the UW:


At 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall conductor Scott Teeple leads the UW Wind Ensemble (below top) in its FREE season opener featuring music by Percy Grainger, Aaron Copland, Roger Zare and Jennifer Higdon. Also featured is guest oboist, faculty member Aaron Hill (below bottom).

Here is a link to program notes:

Also at 7:30 p.m. in nearby Morphy Recital Hall, the internationally renowned guest violist Nobuko Imai (below), from Japan, will give a free public master class in strings and chamber music.


At noon in Mills Hall, guest violist Nobuko Imai (see above) will perform a FREE one-hour lunchtime concert with the Pro Arte Quartet, which has San Francisco cellist guest Jean-Michel Fonteneau substituting for the quartet’s usual cellist, Parry Karp, who is sidelined temporarily with a finger injury.

The ensemble will perform just one work: a driving and glorious masterpiece, the String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111, by Johannes Brahms.

At 1 p.m. in Old Music Hall, Demondrae Thurman (below), a UW alumnus who is distinguished for playing the euphonium, will give a free public master class in brass.

For more information, go to:

NOTE: The 3:30 master class for singers by Melanie Helton has been CANCELLED. The UW hopes to reschedule it for late fall or spring.


At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, UW baritone Paul Rowe (below top, in a  photo by Michael R. Anderson) and UW collaborative pianist Martha Fischer (below middle) will give a FREE concert of three songs cycles by Robert Schumann (the famed “Liederkreis); Maurice Ravel; and UW alumnus composer Scott Gendel (below bottom).

For the complete program, go to:


At 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Symphony Orchestra (below) will perform under its new conductor Chad Hutchinson. See above.


At 3 p.m. the afternoon concerts by Lyle Anderson at the UW Carillon (below) on Observatory Drive will resume.

Here is a link with a schedule and more information:

Classical music: Starting this Sunday night, the next month is busy for the UW-Madison’s acclaimed Pro Arte Quartet with FREE concerts of music by Mozart, Brahms and Schubert

September 18, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

The opening concert of the new season of the Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer) is this coming Sunday night, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall.

The Pro Arte Quartet will give an all-Mozart program, featuring Alicia Lee (below), the new clarinet professor at the UW-Madison. The works to be performed are the G Major “Haydn” String Quartet, K. 387, called the “Spring” Quartet, and the famed late Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581. (You can hear the sublime slow movement of the Clarinet Quintet in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is a link to biographies of new faculty members at the UW-Madison School of Music, including that of Lee:

In early October, the internationally celebrated violist Nobuko Imai (below) returns to the UW-Madison campus, on her way from Europe to a concert in Minneapolis.

Her master class on viola and chamber music will be on Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. Morphy Recital Hall. It is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

The following day, Thursday, Oct. 5, at NOON in Mills Hall, Imai  will perform a FREE public concert with members of the Pro Arte Quartet and guest cellist Jean-Michel Fonteneau (below).

The program is a single work, a masterpiece: the Brahms G Major Viola Quintet, Op. 111. It is legendary for the first viola part, according to a member of the quartet, and Imai would herself be legendary in this role.

Cellist Fonteneau is a member of the San Francisco Trio, and is familiar to Madison audiences through his many acclaimed appearances with the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.

Adds Pro Arte violist Sally Chisholm: “This particular concert is another gesture to all the long-time supporters of the Pro Arte and the Madison community who remain part of our legacy.”

The Pro Arte’s second concert, also FREE and open to the public, is Saturday night, Oct. 28, in Mills Hall. It is will be all Schubert – the flute and piano theme and variations, and the Schubert Octet, featuring members of both the Wingra Wind Quintet and the Pro Arte Quartet.

Says Chisholm: “The Schubert Octet has been much discussed up and down the fourth floor of the School of Music for several years, and suddenly, we said “Let’s do it!”

“We checked calendars, and the Wingra was free to join us on Oct. 28. Whether this is a first performance of the Schubert, or one of many, the feeling is always that we never have the chance to perform it often enough. We hope it brings us all together with hope and joy.”

The Pro Arte Quartet’s longtime cellist Parry Karp continues to teach and coach chamber musicians, but he has been sidelined by a finger injury and will not yet be back to perform these concerts. He is scheduled to return to performing in November, according to Chisholm.

Classical music: Performers should announce encores

March 25, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

All around The Ear, even very knowledgeable people were asking:

“What is that piece?”

“Who’s the composer?”

After a recent and superb performance of the Piano Concerto No. 4 by Ludwig van Beethoven with the Madison Symphony Orchestra under its longtime music director John DeMain, the renowned American pianist Emanuel Ax (below), who received a well-deserved standing ovation, played an encore.

And he played it beautifully.

Emanuel Ax portrait 2016

But he was negligent in one way.

He didn’t announce what the encore was.

So most of the audience was left wondering and guessing.

Now, The Ear knew the composer and piece because The Ear is an avid amateur pianist and knows the piano repertoire pretty well.

The encore in question was the Valse Oubliée No. 1 in F-sharp Major by Franz Liszt, which used to be more popular and more frequently heard than it is now. (You can hear it below played by Arthur Rubinstein in a YouTube video.)

On previous nights, Ax – who is a friendly, informed, articulate and talkative guy — also had apparently not announced the encores. But on Friday night it was the Waltz No. 2 in A minor by Frederic Chopin and on Saturday night is was the Nocturne in F-sharp major, Op. 15, No. 2, also by Chopin. Chopin is a composer who is a specialty of Ax, as you can hear in the YouTube video at the bottom, which features his encore in an unusual setting pertaining to the Holocaust.

It’s a relatively small annoyance, but The Ear really thinks that performers ought to announce encores. Audiences have a right to know what they are about to hear or have just heard. It is just a matter of politeness and concert etiquette, of being audience-friendly.

Plus it is fun to hear the ordinary speaking voice of the artist, even if it is only just briefly to announce a piece of music, as you can hear below with Ax discussing the three concerts in Carnegie Hall that he did to celebrate the bicentennials of Chopin and Robert Schumann.

And it isn’t just a matter of big names or small names.

Emanuel Ax is hardly alone.

A partial list this season of performers who did NOT announce encores include violinist Benjamin Beilman, who played with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra; violist Nobuko Imai, who performed with the Pro Arte Quartet; pianist Maurizio Pollini in a solo recital in Chicago; and a UW professor who played a work by Robert Schumann that even The Ear didn’t know.

Performing artists who DID announce encores — many of then by Johann Sebastian Bach — included pianist Joyce Yang at the Wisconsin Union Theater; violinist James Ehnes and cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio, both with the Madison Symphony Orchestra; UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor, who played sick but nonetheless announced and commented humorously on his encore by Scott Joplin, “The Wall Street Rag”; and violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky, who played recently with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.

So it seems like there is no consistent standard that concert artists learn or adopt about handling encores. The Ear’s best guess is that it is just a personal habit the performers get used to over time.

But the Ear sure wishes that all performing artists would announce encores, program changes or additions.

It just makes the concert experience more fun and informative as well as less frustrating.

Is The Ear alone?

Do you prefer that artists announce or not announce their encores?

Or doesn’t it matter to you?

The Ear wants to hear.

Classical music: UW-Madison’s Hunt Quartet performs a FREE MUST-HEAR concert of Beethoven, Schubert and Webern this Sunday evening. Plus, there is a FREE concert of Schubert’s song cycle “Winterreise” this Saturday afternoon at the UW-Madison

March 4, 2016
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ALERT: On Saturday night at 3:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, David Richardson, a first-year DMA candidate in Collaborative Piano at the UW-Madison, will be joined by a guest artist, baritone Alan Dunbar, for a FREE performance of the famous song cycle “Winterreise” (Winter Journey) by Franz Schubert. The Ear hears it promises to be an outstanding performance.

By Jacob Stockinger

There are many student recitals and concerts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison each season – many dozens and maybe even into the hundreds.

But still there are standouts.

One such standout is coming up this Sunday night at 6 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall. That’s when the Hunt Quartet, made up of very talented UW-Madison graduate students, will perform a FREE concert.

Too bad it has to compete with the special two-hour final episode of the popular PBS series “Downton Abbey,” which The Ear suspects will cut into the audience. Could they have moved the concert up to 5 or earlier? That would be nice, but maybe hall logistics made that impossible.

Anyway, the members of the string quartet were selected by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music faculty because they are outstanding performers and pedagogues.

Members are seen below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot. They are from left: Clayton Tillotson, violin; Blakeley Menghini, viola; Paran Amirinazari, violin; and cellist Andrew Briggs, cello.

Hunt Quartet 2016 Katrin Talbot

The appealing all-masterpiece program is: String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 No. 5, by Ludwig van Beethoven; Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, Op. 9, by Anton Webern; and the famous String Quartet in D minor, “Death and the Maiden,” by Franz Schubert. (You can hear the slow movement of the Schubert, based on a song he composed, played by the Alban Berg Quartet in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

The Hunt Quartet is the graduate string quartet for UW-Madison’s School of Music. As Project Assistants within the School of Music, the Quartet performs concerts at the School of Music and university events, as well as part of community outreach.

Members work closely with faculty, including the Pro Arte Quartet, and have Professor Uri Vardi as their principal coach. Other artists who have worked with the Quartet include violist Nobuko Imai, violist Lila Brown, and members of the Takacs String Quartet.

The Quartet is also the integral part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s “Up Close and Musical” program, visiting area schools to teach students about fundamentals of music and the string quartet.

The Hunt Quartet is generously sponsored by Kato Perlman and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Classical music: It’s a busy week for the Pro Arte Quartet of the UW-Madison with concerts on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday night. Plus, Spanish pianist Daniel del Pino performs at Farley’s House of Pianos on Sunday afternoon.

October 3, 2015
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REMINDER: The Salon Piano Series at Farley’s House of Pianos opens this Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. with a performance by Spanish pianist Daniel del Pino. The program includes music by Felix Mendelssohn; the Prelude, Chorale and Fugue at Cesar Franck; and the 12 Etudes, Op. 10, by Frederic Chopin. For more information, visit:

By Jacob Stockinger

The Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer) has a busy concert schedule ahead of it this week.

Members of the Pro Arte Quartet, the longest active string quartet in the history of music, are David Perry and Suzanne Beia, violins; Sally Chisholm, viola; and Parry Karp, cello.

Pro Arte Quartet new 2 Rick Langer

On this Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m., the Pro Arte will open the new “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” series, as it has done for close to 40 years.

The program includes: the String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 18, No. 1 (1799-1800) by Ludwig van Beethoven; the Langsamer Satz (slow movement) for String Quartet (1905) by Anton Webern; and the String Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 428 (1783) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

But for the second year in a row, the program will be streamed live on the Chazen Museum of Art’s website rather than over Wisconsin Public Radio, which pulled the plug on the venerable and acclaimed live concert series that presented chamber music and recitals by individuals and ensembles around the state.

You can attend the concert in person in Brittingham Gallery 3 for FREE. And here is a link, embedded in an image, for streaming it live:


Then at 7:30 p.m. on this coming Wednesday night, the Pro Arte will perform a FREE concert with the acclaimed and prize-winning violist Nobuko Imai (below, in a photo by Marco Borggreve) as the special guest artist.

Nobuko Imai photo: Marco Borggreve always credit name photographer

The program is the String Quintet in C Minor, K. 406, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the String Quartet in B-flat major, Op. 87, by Felix Mendelssohn. Both works are scored for string quartet plus an extra viola. (The Mozart string quintet is a transcription of an earlier Wind Octet. You can hear the first movement in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Here is a link with more information about Nobuko Imai who will also give a FREE and PUBLIC master class on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall.


Classical music: Famed Japanese violist Nobuko Imai joins the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte String Quartet this Wednesday night in a MUST-HEAR and FREE concert of Mozart, Brahms and Britten. Plus, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra ends its winter “Masterworks” season Friday night with Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Canteloube. And pianist Jeremy Denk gives a public master class on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (NOT 7) in Morphy Hall.

April 9, 2013

AN ALERT and  A REMINDER: Pianist Jeremy Denk’s masterclass is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (NOT 7 p.m., as erroneously stated yesterday in a reader comment, in Morphy Hall. Also, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra closes out its current Masterworks season this Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center. The conductor is WCO music director Andrew Sewell, and the emphasis in on the Classical era composers — Haydn (Symphony No. 83, “The Hen”), Mozart (love songs from the opera “Don Giovanni” with Metropolitan Opera soprano Susanna Phillips, below) and Beethoven (Symphony No. 2) — that Sewell performs so brilliantly and so convincingly. Joseph Canteloube’s popular and more Romantic “Songs of the Auvergne” are also featured. For more information and tickets, here is a link:

susanna phillips

By Jacob Stockinger

The music schedule for April is crazy busy, and it just keeps getting crazier and busier.

Take the University of Wisconsin’s Pro Arte String Quartet (below in a photo by Rick Langer), which has a fine reputation when it plays by itself.


But it also brings in some respected guests fairly often, especially guests cellist, violists and pianists. That is what makes the PAQ’s FREE concert this Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall so special.

The guest this time will be the acclaimed Japanese violist Nobuko Imai (below), who once played with the esteemed Vermeer String Quartet and who rarely plays in America.

Nobuko Imai CR Marco Borggreve

The program includes: the masterful Viola Quintet in C major, K. 515, by Mozart (substituted for the Quintet, Op. 11, No. 5 by Luigi Boccherini); Benjamin Britten’s Solo Cello Suite No. 2 transcribed for solo viola; and the great String Quintet No. 2 in G major, Op. 111, by Johannes Brahms.

Violist Elias Goldstein (below) – who did his doctorate here at UW-Madison and now teaches at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge –will also perform with members of the Pro Arte Quartet.

elias goldstein 2

Here is some background about Noboku Imai, provided by the UW-Madison School of Music: s

“With her exceptional talent, musical integrity and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violists of our time. She has excelled as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and pedagogue, and performs often with world-renowned artists.

“In 2003, Nobuko Imai, Mihaela Martin, Stephan Picard and Frans Helmerson formed the Michelangelo Quartet (below), which gained an international reputation has become one of the finest quartets in the world.

michelangelo quartet

“Imai currently teaches at the Geneva and Amsterdam Conservatories, Kronberg International Academy and Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo.”

Here are words of tribute from the regular Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm (below) about Imai and about the role of the viola, which often goes understated in the shadow on violins and cellos:

Sally Chisholm

“Nobuko Imai is coming to Madison from Curtis where she is giving a master class just before arriving here, and will also appear in the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota on April 14. We are very lucky to bring her to Madison, both because she is so renowned a musician and violist, but also because she makes very few appearances in the US. Nobuko teaches in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Germany and Japan. Busy lady. She will be in residence at the Marlboro Festival this summer.

“We are honored and thrilled to have Nobuko Imai, one of the world’s most famed violists, include Madison for a rare U.S. appearance. She is a star in the solo world of string playing, and a person of humility and vision. Though she is one of the most influential performers and teachers in Europe and Asia, she seldom performs in the United States.

Nobuko Imai

“On this coming trip she will be performing only at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, St. Paul, Minn., and in Madison. Her master classes are renowned for her ability to show a student how to transform from good to superb, all in a public setting.”

As for the role of the viola (below), Chisholm adds: “Brahms loved the sound of contralto, which is one reason he is so generous to the viola in his chamber music. With so many roles to fulfill, as an inner voice, a leader of harmonic motion, a primary texture, and a solo voice, the sound of the viola is often turned to as the soul of the quartet.


Whether contralto or mezzo-soprano, the voice of the viola is used when a composer has something very important to say. For performers, the luxury of living inside the quartet sound, yet having many occasions to soar above, is so rewarding that it lasts a lifetime.”

Classical music Q&A: Choral Director and musicologist Robert Gehrenbeck discusses his new and unheard hybrid version of Mozart’s Requiem that he and the Wisconsin Chamber Choir will unveil in performance next Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Plus, acclaimed violist Nobuko Imai gives a FREE master class at the UW-Madison Monday night.

April 7, 2013

ALERT: A FREE master class by the acclaimed violist Nobuko Imai (below) — who performs a FREE concert Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall with the UW Pro Arte String Quartet — will be held tomorrow, on Monday night, April 8, at 7 p.m. in Morphy Hall.

Imai Nobuko 018.jpg

By Jacob Stockinger

Ask someone to name the best and most popular Requiems, and inevitably Mozart’s Requiem will be high up on the list, probably at the very top.

But there are many versions and completions of the unfinished masterpiece.

Next weekend is the world premiere of a version that you have never heard.

That gives us all the more reason to pay attention to the carefully edited and original version that the Wisconsin Chamber Choir (below) and other groups will perform next Saturday night, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Ave., in Madison; and then again on Sunday afternoon, April 14, at 3 p.m. at Young Auditorium, 930 West Main St., in Whitewater.

Wisconsin Chamber Choir Nov 17, 2012 Bethel Lutheran

Also on the program are J.S. Bach’s motet “Jesu Meine Freude” and scenes from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” — all of which relate to the Requiem.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $15 for students. You can also purchase tickets ahead of time at Orange Tree Imports and Willy Street Co-op East and West. Here is a link for more ticket information:

And here is a link to the Choir’s home site, where you can find reviews and other information about upcoming concerts and biographies of the performers plus photos, recordings and a history of the Wisconsin Chamber Choir:

I asked choir director Robert Gehrenbeck (below), who also teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he is the head of choral activities, to discuss how he arrived at his original and never-heard hybrid performance edition of perhaps the famous Requiem ever composed.

Gehrenbeck’s answers to an email Q&A are below.

Robert Gehrenbeck

The Wisconsin Chamber Choir (below) is teaming up with others for the upcoming concert. Can you give us details about the other singers and orchestra players?

We are collaborating with my top university choir at the UW-Whitewater, the Chamber Singers, and a professional orchestra. The vocal soloists for the concert include members of both choirs, and I’m proud to say that we have some excellent, professional-quality solo voices in both groups.

The orchestra is made up of members of the Madison Symphony, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, and the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra. Many of these players have extensive training in historical performance practice, such as Leanne League, our concertmaster.

Wisconsin Chamber Choir 1

What makes the Mozart Requiem so perpetually popular for both the performers and the listeners?

The Requiem is one of Mozart’s very best works. Regardless of whether one believes that he knew he was writing his own Requiem — scholars debate this — he obviously poured his heart and soul into this piece.

Mozart’s creative response to the wide-ranging imagery of the Latin Requiem text is amazing. Often a single movement will contain several completely different styles of music, alternately terrifying and consoling, in the space of only a few measures.

The sheer variety of moods, styles, and textures in Mozart’s score is astounding, from the intensity of the famous Dies irae movement to the completely serene world of the Recordare quartet that comes just a few minutes later and which contains some of the most rapturously beautiful music Mozart ever wrote.

Much of the Requiem is indebted to the music of Handel and Bach — for example, the opening subject of Mozart’s Kyrie fugue appears in both Handel’s “Messiah” and J.S. Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier.”

So Mozart (below) was channeling the spirit of his Baroque forebears, but he also gave the music his own personal touch, especially in the area of harmony — Mozart’s Kyrie, for example, delves into deeper reaches of chromatic harmony than anything Handel ever wrote. There are numerous instances throughout the Requiem where the harmonic progressions are simply awe-inspiring, especially in the quieter, more introspective moments of the score.

Mozart old 1782

It is an unfinished work. What edition are you using? What are its strong points and why did you choose it over others?

We are using an edition by the German musicologist, Franz Beyer, which preserves the vocal parts completed by Mozart (the bulk of the piece) as well as the movements completed by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr (Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei).

However, Beyer substantially alters Süssmayr’s orchestration throughout the work (including in the three movements written by Süssmayr himself). Mozart finished orchestrating only the first movement, the Introit,  and sketched out salient thematic ideas for the orchestration of the remaining movements.

When deciding which edition to use, I sat down and compared every page of the traditional Süssmayr score to Beyer’s score, and I concluded that Beyer’s orchestration was indeed more “Mozartian” — more creative, nuanced and transparent — than Süssmayr’s.

On the other hand, Beyer does not alter the overall form of the work, as others have done. Although the piece is unfinished in once sense—for example, Mozart definitely intended to write another large fugue at the end of the Lacrymosa and he sketched out the first 16 bars of this, a double fugue on the word “Amen”— in another sense, the Requiem, as completed by Süssmayr, is still a coherent whole.

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of the work in its traditional form is by Mozart. Only the end of the Lacrymosa and the three movements near the end of the work are by Süssmayr, and it’s very likely that he was working from sketches by Mozart when he wrote these.

In particular, I find that the intensely personal music of “Süssmayr’s” Agnus Dei movement is on a par with the inspiration of the rest of the piece. There are several subtle thematic links between the these later movements and the earlier ones, which has led many musicologists and conductors who have studied the work to conclude that there’s a lot of Mozart buried in the Süssmayr portions. (Below is an etching of Sussmayr at Mozart’s death-bed.)

Franz Xaver Sussmayrwith dying at Mozart's deathbed

In two instances, I decided to make my own alterations to Beyer’s version. In the Dies irae, I substituted the woodwind, trumpet and timpani parts completed by Joseph Eybler. another of Mozart’s students, who was actually Mozart’s wife Constanze’s first choice to complete the work.

Eybler was a far better composer than Süssmayr, but Süssmayr’s handwriting resembled Mozart’s more closely —this may be one of the reasons Mozart’s wife Constanze eventually settled on him, because she still needed to pass off the work as if it had been completed by Mozart, in order to collect the remainder of the commissioning fee.

For whatever reason, Eybler gave up before finishing, but I found his orchestration of the Dies irae to be more gripping than either Süssmayr’s or Beyer’s. (Below is Mozart’s autograph score of the Dies irae with Eybler’s additions.)

Mozart Requiem mss Dies Irae K626 Requiem Dies Irae

The other change I made was to rewrite two measures near the end of Süssmayr’s Benedictus, between the conclusion of the Benedictus proper and the reprise of the Hosanna fugue. In Süssmayr’s version, the first Hosanna (at the end of the Sanctus) is in D (along with the Sanctus itself), whereas the second Hosanna — the one that concludes the Benedictus movement — is in B-flat, the key of the Benedictus. But this doesn’t make sense, formally, since the Sanctus and Benedictus form a single unit in the Requiem liturgy.

Intriguingly, Süssmary’s Benedictus features a unison string motive that also appears The Magic Flute, except, in the opera, Mozart uses this motive to modulate to a new key.  Assuming that Süssmayr got this motive from a sketch by Mozart, he simply may not have realized that Mozart meant to use this figure at the end of the Benedictus to modulate back to D-major, allowing for an exact reprise of the Hosanna fugue, rather than a transposed reprise, as Süssmayr composed it.

Putting Mozart’s motive to good use, it was relatively easy to bring the music back to the original key of D, allowing for the exact reprise that Mozart may have actually intended. (My inspiration for this change came from an excellent book on the Requiem by Christoph Wolff (below), “Mozart’s Requiem: Historical and Analytical Studies,” published by the University of California Press in 1994).

Christoph Wolff

So I can confidently say that our particular version of Mozart’s Requiem has never been heard before, anywhere! But the changes are subtle, and audience members will still get to hear a rendition of this great work that is very similar to what they have heard before, just slightly more enlightening, hopefully.

What do you want to say about J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Meine Freude,” and the excerpts from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute., which you will also perform? Why did you choose to couple that Bach and especially that Mozart with the Requiem?

Mozart definitely knew Bach’s motet “Jesu, meine Freude” because he examined a score of it while visiting Leipzig in 1789, and he quotes it in “The Magic Flute,” of all places. Towards the end of Act II of the opera comes the unusual scene with the Two Men in Armor that sounds as if it’s a Bach chorale prelude for organ transported into the operatic realm. In fact, the main motive played by the strings in this scene is by Bach — it’s the bass line of “Gute Nacht, O Wesen,” the ninth movement of “Jesu, meine Freude.” In the opera, this is the scene in which Tamino and Pamina undergo the trials of fire and water before emerging ready to be initiated into the fellowship of the Priests of Isis.

By invoking the spirit of Bach (below) in this scene, Mozart deepens its spiritual meaning and, indeed, the entire opera can be interpreted as a spiritual allegory. So in an important sense, all three works on the WCC’s program — the Bach motet, the scene from “The Magic Flute,” and Mozart’s Requiem—have the character of spiritual journeys, which is why I think there are strong connections between them. Mozart was just finishing “The Magic Flute” when he received the commission to write the Requiem.


What projects are in the future for the Wisconsin Chamber Choir?

On June 1 we will present a concert on the theme of “Benjamin Britten and Friends,” featuring music by Henry Purcell, Percy Grainger, Frank Bridge and Arvo Pärt, along with lots of Britten, whose centennial is being celebrated this year.

We’ll be joined by the Britten Choir of the Madison Youth Choirs organization for that performance, which will be at 7:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Monona.

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