By Jacob Stockinger
A fan of the blog writes:
“Here’s a talker of a topic: Erotic reactions to musical moments.
“It’s not such a good video. But you could ask for suggestions.”
And that is what I will do: Ask for suggestions of music you find sexy and have a physical response to, with a YouTube link if possible.
Leave them in the COMMENT section.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
The critics’ judgments are in and they seem unanimous: iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other similar streaming services do a grave injustice to classical music. In the end, CDs and vinyl LPs are far better than streaming for a quality listening experience.
The difficulties apparently have to do with engineering and the limits of technology, specifically of the digital compression of sound.
Here are three good and convincing critiques to read:
From The Atlantic magazine:
Here is an analysis from the prolific and always interesting reporter Anastasia Tsioulcas (below), who writes for National Public Radio (NPR) and its outstanding classical music blog Deceptive Cadence. She tackles other streaming services including Pandora and Spotify. She focuses on the organization and the difficulty of finding the music you want to listen to:
By Jacob Stockinger
The new group The Willy Street Chamber Players (below) — certainly the biggest and most successful music news story of this summer — will end its first summer season with a MUST-HEAR concert on Bach and Mendelssohn this Friday night at 6 p.m.
The concert is at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street, which has both a performance space with fine acoustics hall and plenty of free parking.
Admission is $12 for adults; $8 for students and seniors.
You could hardly ask for a better program, which features two undisputed masterpieces.
The first is the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by Johann Sebastian Bach (below). It is scored without violins but for lower strings and it is irresistible for its melodies and harmonies and especially for its driving energy and rhythm.
The second work is the astonishing Octet -– really a double string quartet –- by Felix Mendelssohn (below) who composed it when he was only 16. It may well be Mendelsohn’s best work. It too is irresistible is its energy and melodies. It is thrilling and one of the quintessential chamber music works of all time! (You can hear the impetuous opening in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
The Ear is going and so should you.
By all accounts, the inaugural season of the Willy Street Chamber Players -– which included everything from classic Handel, Mozart, Brahms and Dvorak to new music by contemporary composers and a noon concert for families – has been a great success.
Here is a link to a review The Ear did of the first concert:
It’s enough to make one hopeful about a second season for the group and to make one impatient to see the programs.
The Ear bets both are already in the works!
By Jacob Stockinger
It happened again.
There I was, writing in the early morning.
But this particular morning host Stephanie Elkins played a piece that I had never heard. It stopped me in my tracks.
It is so beautiful and poignant, and it moves so slowly and movingly that The Ear thought you should also hear it.
It is the Interlude by the Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar from his cantata “The Song.” If his other music is as good, Stenhammar (below) might well deserve a rediscovery. He was a prolific composer with several symphonies and piano concertos to his credit.
The Ear hopes you enjoy this rarely performed work as much as he did.
Perhaps my memory is faulty. But I don’t recall hearing it performance live in Madison.
Yet it might make a nice curtain raiser or encore for the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Symphony Orchestra or the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras.
ALERT: A reminder that tonight at 6 p.m. in the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1021 Spaight Street, the newly formed group the Willy Street Chamber Players (below) — whose members also play in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and other groups — will present a concert of works for strings and piano by living composers, including Paul Schoenfield (you can hear the first movement of his “Cafe Music,” which is on the program, in a YouTube video at the bottom) and UW-Madison School of Music students. Admission is $12, $8 for students and seniors. For more information, here is a link to the group’s website:
By Jacob Stockinger
The Ear’s friends at the Rural Musicians Forum write:
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s faculty brass ensemble, Ensemble Nouveau, takes the stage at Hillside Theater in Spring Green, at famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s compound Taliesin, as part of the Rural Musicians Forum summer concert series, on this coming Monday night, July 27 at 7:30 p.m.
The Hillside Theater (below) is located at 6604 Highway 23 in Spring Green.
The concert is not ticketed and is open to the public. A free-will offering will be taken to support the concert series. For additional information and driving directions see www.ruralmusiciansforum.org.
The ensemble’s performance will be held in the fashion of the quickly growing trend called “Classical Revolution,” where audiences hear classical music in a setting that is different and more accessible than typical concert venues and settings. Since the ensemble formed in 2009, it has performed at community centers, schools and radio stations in northern Illinois, Chicago, northeast Iowa and all across Wisconsin.
“The novelty of the group is that each member plays at least four different instruments when we perform,” said David Cooper, associate professor of trumpet and chair of the Department of Performing and Visual Arts. “Another unique feature of the group is that we arrange all of our own music because no musical arrangements exist with parts written for our unique combination of instruments.”
The group began as a quartet of four UW-Platteville faculty members and held its first concert in 2009. The group soon attracted the attention of Wisconsin Public Radio because of the quality of the members’ musicianship.
Today, the group has grown to a sextet: Cooper, who plays B-flat, C, E-flat, flugel horn and piccolo trumpet; Matthew Gregg, associate director of bands, who plays French horn, mellophone, flugel and trumpet; Allen Cordingley, lecturer of saxophone and jazz studies, who plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone; percussion instructor Keith Lienert, who plays an assortment of instruments including the drum set, marimba and steel pan; Corey Mackey, lecturer of clarinet, guitar, chamber music and music appreciation, who plays all members of the clarinet family; and David Earll, lecturer of music technology, chamber music and music appreciation, who plays different tubas and euphonium.
In the photo below, members of the Ensemble Nouveau are, from left to right, David Earll, Matthew Gregg, Keith Lienert, Corey Mackey, David Cooper, Allen Cordingley.
Ensemble Nouveau now represents almost every musical member of a typical high school band program, and its program is widely varied.
“I’ve never played with a group like this before – where the literature varies so much, from Johann Sebastian Bach to Stevie Wonder to Astor Piazzola,” said Gregg. “We can play a multitude of styles: jazz, classical, funk, Latin – you name it, we play it.”
“I enjoy the challenge that comes from the uniqueness of the group,” said Cordingley. “This group is a small version of a concert band, involving all types of instruments and all types of music. During Renaissance times, consorts of musicians played in diverse locations. It almost feels like we’re old-time consorts playing contemporary music in our own diverse locations.”
In an important way, Ensemble Nouveau is also an attractive representation of what the UW-Platteville Department of Visual and Performing Arts has to offer.
As Cooper says: “We are part of this ensemble because we want to be. This group has a sincere camaraderie that reflects our passion for music and our appreciation for the opportunities we have at UW-Platteville.
“We want students at area high schools to know that they will have access to world-class players, musicians and singers at UW-Platteville. It’s important to keep music alive. Ensemble Nouveau is going to do everything in its power to do that.”
Ensemble Nouveau promises an evening of exuberant all-brass music. It will not be “all crashing cymbals and honking tubas,” Gregg insists.
For openers, two talented student flutists from the Wisconsin River Valley, Brenna Ledesma and Carly Stanek, will be featured. Each will play a solo selection followed by a duet.
By Jacob Stockinger
It is a famous story about writer’s block –- or, in this case, composer’s block.
The young Russian Romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (below, 1873-1943) was so devastated by bad reviews of his first symphony in 1897 that he fell into a deep depression and couldn’t compose music for three years.
But then he sought the help of a hypnotherapist Nikolai Dahl who kept repeating, “You will write a great piano concerto.”
And eventually he did.
Now that legendary incident has been depicted in a new play called “Preludes.”
It makes The Ear hope that one of the local theater companies will produce it, much as they did with the play about music education called “Master Class,” written by famed playwright Terrence McNally about the temperamental opera diva Maria Callas and some students.
“Preludes” is a chamber drama in which actors play multiple parts, many of the other famous artistic figures of the day such as the singer Fyodor Chaliapin (below right, played by Joseph Keckler in a photo by Tina Fineberg for The New York Times) and the writer-playwright Anton Chekhov.
It also involves two Rachmaninoffs (below in a photo by Tina Fineberg for The New York Times): one, called Rach, is the composer, portrayed by Gabriel Ebert, left; the other, called Rachmaninoff, is the pianist played by Or Matias.
Those of us who are not creative artists find it endlessly fascinating to try to get inside the head of important artistic figures.
Moreover, the drama gets a rave review that whets one’s appetite to see this play about a composer who was once dismissed as hopelessly sentimental but whose gorgeously melodic and stirringly harmonic music has had remarkable staying power and appeal – and continues to do so.
See what you think and whether the play stimulates your own curiosity.
Here is a link to the review:
By Jacob Stockinger
It happened on the last night of the successful three-weekend, six program, three-venue summer season –- the 24th such season for the Madison-based Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society -– that just ended.
The founders, artistic directors and performers were all milling around in the hallway of the Overture Center and were already talking about what a big event next summer will be because it will be the 25th season.
Clearly, planning the next season starts right away.
That night is when The Ear asked them if they wanted to get ideas from the public.
Yes, they said heartily, the more, the better!
So I said I would post about it, including my own suggestions and soliciting suggestions from the public.
Here they are. They include music from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern eras.
As you’ll see, I like the idea of using the number 25 as a symbol of the silver anniversary.
As in No. 25.
As in Opus 25.
If I had more patience and time, I might also do what a close friend suggested: Look for pieces of music that were written when the composer was 25. Maybe some of you know of such works and can suggest them!
Anyway, here are The Ear’s suggestions:
Here is a link to a YouTube recording and video:
Specifically, I think of the Piano Concerto in C major, K. 503 – and No. 25 of 27 -– by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you heard BDDS perform the reduction of the Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491, this summer, you know how beautiful it can be, especially with the transparency of the different parts. And No. 25 is both majestic and sublime.
Find a transcription or make one.
Other orchestral candidates include: Mozart’s great Symphony No. 25 in G Minor (the Little G Minor to distinguish it from the Big G minor, No. 40) and Haydn’s Symphony No. 25 in C Major.
But I have also heard some wonderful transcriptions of the etudes for other instruments. Op. 25, No. 7 in C-sharp minor, for example, is meant to sound like a cello. (You can hear it below played soulfully by Daniil Trifonov.)
The cello was Chopin’s second favorite instrument. It might be impressive fun to see what BDDS comes up with if they do their own transcriptions of some etudes. The solo piano version is still the best, but a transcription might emphasize color and show the musicality in the pioneering keyboard studies!
6. Antonio Vivaldi, Cello Concerto in A minor, RV 422, No. 25
7. Antonio Vivaldi, Bassoon Concerto in F major, RV 491, No. 25
8. Johann Sebastian Bach, Cantata No. 25, “Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ” BWV 623. One could do the entire original version or perhaps use excerpts, like the Bach arias and duets that BDDS performed this summer.
9. Sergei Prokofiev, Symphony No. 1 “Classical,” Op. 25, in another reduction. It would go especially well with something by Haydn, who was the model for this Neo-Classical work.
You can hear all these works on YouTube.
And The Ear is sure there are a lot more works to name.
So send in your suggestions in the COMMENT section.
The Ear wants to hear.
And so does the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.
By Jacob Stockinger
Late word has reached The Ear about a promising new chamber music group that has been formed on Madison’s near east side. It will make its debut in a concert this Friday evening at 6 p.m. Admission is $12 for the general public; $8 for seniors and students.
It is called the Willy Street Chamber Players and a has a great logo (below) that combines the isthmus and a violin.
For complete information, here is a link to the group’s website:
And here are excerpts from their website:
“The Willy Street Chamber Players are the new faces of chamber music in Madison, Wisconsin. In residency at Immanuel Lutheran Church in the Williamson/Marquette neighborhood, our group features musicians who live on the East Side of Madison and also perform with the city’s major arts organizations.
“Our performances are of the highest quality and are sure to leave a lasting impression on all who attend. Concerts begin at the unique time of 6 p.m., allowing audiences to leave for the evening with enough time left over to enjoy summertime dinners and venture off to the next great event happening around town.
“A special lunch-time family concert will also be held at noon on Friday, July 17, for those who are looking for an enriching and creative way to spend their lunch hour.
“Chamber music revolves around the concepts of collaboration and building relationships, and we believe those activities affect everyone in the room, not just the musicians on stage. Post-concert social activities are an integral part of our programming and we encourage everyone to stay after each performance to meet our musicians.
“We founded this festival as a way to strengthen ties with the neighborhoods that we call home. By sharing diverse programs of the music we love most we hope to share a bit of ourselves with our community in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
“We are the musicians that you hear practicing in the windows on Spaight Street or biking down the Capitol City trail on Atwood Avenue.
“We play your weddings, teach your kids and play impromptu concerts on your street corners.
“We play as members of Madison’s leading ensembles including the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Bach Musicians, the Ancora String Quartet and have all gone through the graduate studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.
“Some of us — Eleanor Bartsch — have even gone viral on YouTube serenading elephants with the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. But most importantly we shop local, eat local, bike local and live local.
“Come join us for these exciting concerts. We would love to meet you!
Here is the 2015 Core Roster of Performers
Eleanor Bartsch, Violin (below)
Lindsey Crabb, Cello (below)
Beth Larson, Violin (below)
Rachel Hauser, Violin/Viola (below)
Mark Bridges, Cello (below)
Paran Amirinazari, Violin (below)
Jason Kutz, Piano (below)
Here is the JULY 2015 CONCERT SCHEDULE:
ALL CONCERTS WILL BE HELD AT IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH (below), 1021 SPAIGHT STREET, MADISON
Friday, July 10 at 6 p.m.: WSCP Welcomes You!! Our inaugural season will take off with the epic Brahms Sextet in B-flat major, Op. 18– you can hear it in a YouTube video at the bottom — with special guest violinist Suzanne Beia (below) of the Pro Arte Quartet, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Friday, July 24, at 6 p.m.: Hear and Now — A special concert of music written by living composers; many of whom have ties to the Midwest. Come partake in a fun evening of living, breathing music!