By Jacob Stockinger
Yesterday — Friday, March 20, 2015 – brought us the first day of spring.
It also marked the centennial of the birth of the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (below).
Richter was such a complex and towering figure that it would take a book to really do justice to him and to his career.
With one exception that gets no mention.
Somehow that information seems particularly pertinent to The Ear, given the growing acceptance of LGBT people and of marriage equality.
Still, Wigler’s essay is an excellent read and includes a YouTube video – there are many, many YouTube videos of Richter, who had an immense repertoire, playing. This video is of a live performance by Richter in which he plays the last movement of the first piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
You can hear the power and energy, the subtleties and excitement, to say nothing of the originality of interpretation, that Richter brought to music.
Enjoy it -– and tell us if you ever heard Richter live and what is your favorite performance by Sviatoslav Richter with a link to a YouTube video is possible.
By Jacob Stockinger
Our friends from the always unusual and always first-rate Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society write:
Can’t wait for our summer festival in June? Come to Flautistico! The multimedia event will be held this Friday, March 20, at 8 p.m. in Promenade Hall at the Overture Center. All tickets are $25.
Flautistico! is a continuation of co-founder and co-artistic director Stephanie Jutt’s exploration into Latin American, Mexican and Spanish music. (Jutt, below in a photo by Dick Ainsworth, teaches at the UW-Madison School of Music and is also Principal Flute of the Madison Symphony Orchestra.)
This one-time-only concert will feature a wide variety of music from Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Spain that has never been performed at BDDS concerts.
Puerto Rican mezzo-soprano Yanzelmalee Rivera, Venezuelan clarinetist Orlando Pimentel, and Madison’s own fantastic collaborative pianist Thomas Kasdorf will join Jutt.
Dance choreographed by Ariel Juarez and performed by Jacques Saint-Cyr and Maria Castello will complement the music of Piazzolla.
An original art installation by UW-Madison artist Carolyn Kallenborn, including her film footage from Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico, will create a multi-dimensional concert evening.
Photos by Martin Chabi (below) will be projected during the concert.
To purchase tickets from Overture Center, visit: http://www.overturecenter.org/events/flautistico
By Jacob Stockinger
There is much to look forward to during this Friday night’s MUST-HEAR “Masterworks” concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra under the baton of its longtime music director Andrew Sewell.
But clearly the big draw is the Israeli-born cellist Amit Peled (below), who is a now a very successful teacher at the Peabody Conservatory that is attached to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and who also tours the globe performing.
The concert is at 8 p.m. in the Capitol Theater of the Overture Center.
Tickets cost $15, $37, $62 and $65. Call the Overture Center box office at (608) 258-4141.
Amit Peled has played here with the WCO before, and he showed then that his talent is as big as he is, a 6’5” man who projects a big presence physically and musically.
But Peled is also a congenial, humorous and curious musician who knows how to find an unusual angle, a new take on old music.
As an homage, Peled recently recreated a century later a concert by Pablo Casals, who remains perhaps the most famous and influential cellist in history, by performing the same program.
The program included a solo suite by Johann Sebastian Bach since it was Casals who first discovered them and then who convinced the experts and the public that they were not exercises but genuine gorgeous music.
It also included a Catalan folk song, “The Song of the Birds,” which Casals himself arranged and frequently performed as an anthem to the need for freedom from Nazism and Fascism for his homeland. In fact it became a signature of Casals, and Peled will perform the same piece here.
Moreover, Peled performed this concert on Casal’s own cello, a superb 1733 Goffriller instrument, which Peled got on loan from Casals’ widow and which he had restored. (You can hear Amit Peled talk about and play the famed Casals cello in a YouTube video at the bottom.)
And that is the same cello he will bring to his date in Madison.
Here is a link to a story – two conjoined stories really — that NPR (National Public Radio) did about Peled and the Casals cello.
On the same cello, Peled will also perform the “Tarantella” by David Popper – another favorite of Casals — and the rarely played Cello Concerto by Robert Schumann (below), a late work written as the composer was descending into the mental illness that would eventually claim his life.
Adding to the concert’s appeal are two other works.
One is the penultimate symphony by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below), the dark, dramatic and appealing Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550.
The performance by the WCO (below top) should be a lively treat, given the complete mastery of the Classical-era style that conductor Andrew Sewell (below bottom) continues to demonstrate.
Another attraction is the Suite for String Orchestra by Frank Bridge (below), who was the teacher of famed 20th-century British composer Benjamin Britten. And if you have heard Sewell, who originally hails from New Zealand, you know he has a way for finding neglected repertoire and possesses a special fondness of and talent for performing British works.
For more information about the WCO and this concert, visit:
And here is a link to Amit Peled’s website, where you can find more information including reviews, recordings, biographical facts and more:
By Jacob Stockinger
But now something welcome and promising, in addition to the resurgence of the Grammy-winning Minnesota Orchestra under Finnish-born conductor Osmo Vanska, has emerged: A new state-of-the-art and unusual hall (below) as the musical home in Ordway Center for the acclaimed St. Paul Chamber Orchestra -– where the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director and the Madison Opera’s Artistic Director John DeMain once served as an associate conductor.
And, of course, a lot of Madison-area residents travel to the Twin Cities to see the sights and maybe hear the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. (In a YouTube video at the bottom, the orchestra performs Johann Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D, with former music director Pinchas Zukerman conducting.)
So important is the new hall as an event that The New York Times sent out a critic to file a review. Here it is:
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s post is just a reminder that the annual Diane Endres Ballweg Winterfest Concert Series of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will take place this Sunday afternoon and on Saturday afternoon, March 28.
The concerts will feature Sinfonietta, Harp Ensemble (below, to play this Sunday at 4 p.m.), Concert Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Youth Orchestra.
The music for the programs is below. Please note that the pieces are subject to change at the conductor’s discretion.
All concerts will take place in Mills Concert Hall, located in the UW-Madison Mosse Humanities Building, 455 N. Park St.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 3-18.
For information, call 608-263-3320 or visit www.wyso.music.wisc.edu
SUNDAY, MARCH 15, 2015
Sinfonietta: 1:30 p.m.
Richard Stephan – “Fanfare and Frippery”
Arr. Benjamin Britten – “The Sally Gardens”
William Hofeldt – “Twilight Ceremonial”
Clare Grundman – “Hebrides Suite”
Carold Nunez – “M to The Third Power” (Minor Meter Mix)
Antonin Dvorak – Themes from the “New World” Symphony
Richard Stephans – Variations on a well-known “Sea Chantey”
Concert Orchestra – 1:30 p.m.
Rimsky-Korsakov – Dance of the Tumblers from “The Snow Maiden,” ed. Carl Simpson
William Hofeldt – “Song of the Prairie”
John Barry – “Dances with Wolves,” arr. Steven I. Rosenhaus
James Barnes – “Yorkshire Ballad”
Harry Gregson-Williams and Steve Barton – ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Arr. Stephen Bulla
Philharmonia Orchestra – 4 p.m.
Schubert – “Military March,” arr. Leopold Damrosch
Mozart – Overture from “The Magic Flute”
Marquez – Danzon No. 2
Debussy – “Clair de Lune,” orch. Arthur Luck
Bizet – Excerpts from “Carmen” Suite No. 1
SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2015
Youth Orchestra – 1:30 p.m., with winners of the WYSO Concerto Competition
Walter Piston – Suite from the “Incredible Flutist”
Schubert – “Unfinished” Symphony (No. 8) Movements 1 and 2
Arutiunian – Trumpet Concerto
Noah Mennenga, Soloist
Beethoven - Third Piano Concert, Movement 3
Theodore Liu, Soloist
ALERT: Tonight’s recital by pianist Marco Grieco at Farley’s House of Pianos has been CANCELLED due to visa problems.
By Jacob Stockinger
What else can you do except admire the quiet courage and persistence to keep going?
It is exactly what the 20th-century French poet Paul Eduard described as “Le dur désir de durer,” or the hard desire to endure.
Perhaps that is one of the enduring appeals and rewards of great art – to help all of us, artists and audiences alike, get through difficult times, to bear the unbearable.
Last summer, you may recall, the Karp family lost pianist patriarch Howard Karp, a wonderful talent and personality who died suddenly of heart failure at 84 while on vacation in Colorado.
Karp (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) had been a longtime piano teacher and beloved performer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. He also was a devoted first-rate chamber music partner who performed frequently with the other members of his family.
Here is a link to the blog post about that death that drew so many readers and reader comments:
You can also use the blog’s search engine to see several posts about the memorial held for Howard Karp.
Now the remaining family members – apart from the three granddaughters who have participated in previous concerts – will take to the stage of Mills Hall this Saturday night at 8 p.m. to continue the longtime Karp tradition of performing.
He will be joined by his pianist mother Frances, and his brother Christopher, a gifted pianist and violinist (one-time concertmaster of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra) who is also a medical officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Here is the program:
Second Suite for Solo Cello, Op. 80 (1967) by Benjamin Britten (below)
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Sonata in F Major for Piano and Violin, Op. 24 “Spring” (1801-2) by Ludwig van Beethoven; transcribed for Piano and Cello by Parry Karp
Adagio molto expressivo
Scherzo: Allegro molto
Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo
With pianist Frances Karp (below bottom, on left beside the late Howard Karp, and below bottom playing with Parry Karp, Pro Arte violinist and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra concertmaster Suzanne Beia, and daughter-in-law violist Katrin Talbot, who also plays with the Madison Symphony Orchestra)
Sonata for Solo Cello (1955) by George Crumb (below)
Fantasia: Andante espressivo e con molto rubato
Tema pastorale con variazioni
Toccata: Largo e drammatico-Allegro vivace
Sonata in G Major for Piano and Violin, Op. 96 (1812) by Ludwig van Beethoven; transcribed for Piano and Cello by Parry Karp. (At bottom in a YouTube video with a performance by violinist Isabelle Faust and pianist Alexander Melnikov of the appealing first moment of the original version of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata, Op. 96. The work is one of The Ear’s all-time favorites.)
with pianist Christopher Karp (below top and bottom, playing with his brother Parry)
ALERT: A FREE one-hour community Hymn Sing will take place this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. in Overture Hall with the Overture Concert Organ played by guest Joe Chrisman. The event is put on jointly by the Madison Symphony Orchestra and the Overture Center for the Arts.
By Jacob Stockinger
Today’s YOU MUST HEAR THIS comes from a recent concert that I attended.
I first heard this work — the Canzonetta for Oboe and String Orchestra by the 20th-century American composer Samuel Barber (below top) — at the concert by the Middleton Community Orchestra (below bottom) on Wednesday night a week ago.
Not that it is too late. It could stand being programmed again and having a wider hearing. I think it would even be welcome at Concerts on the Square.
I also can’t recall ever hearing it at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, although it seems a perfect choice and could well have been part of a student recital with a piano instead of the orchestra.
In any case, the Canzonetta for Oboe and String Orchestra was a last work -– the middle movement on an unfinished oboe concerto, much like British composer Gerald Finzi’s beautiful “Eclogue” was the middle movement of an uncompleted piano concerto.
The piece has all the hallmarks of Barber, who is best known for his Adagio for Strings. It is neo-Romantic, melodic, tonal and wholly accessible while being unmistakably modern. It is poignant and bittersweet, like many moments in the gorgeous and widely performed Violin Concerto that Barber composed.
In fact, some of the harmonies in the Canzonetta remind The Ear of the sublime and moving “Nimrod” Variation in Sir Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations.
I am not alone in being introduced to this work for the first time. A few very seasoned musicians and music fans in the audience I spoke to had never heard it either.
But it was given a splendid performance by the MCO under conductor Kyle Knox and guest oboist Andy Olson (below), who was trained at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, and who now works at Epic Systems near Madison.
Here is a link to a rave review that John W. Barker (below), who normally writes for Isthmus, did for this blog:
So here is a link to a YouTube video of the piece itself — the seven-minute “canzonetta” or little song, as the title announces. It is sadly telling of the work’s fate that you cannot find a version with either a well-known oboist or well-known string orchestra.
Enjoy and let us know what you think of it.
The Ear wants to hear.
By Jacob Stockinger
For tenors, High C’s are the brass ring on the carousel of opera.
The late great Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti and the very busy Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez both earned fame and fortune with their singing of the astonishing nine high C’s in Gaetano Donizetti’s bel canto opera “La Fille du Regiment.”
In fact, Florez repeated the same nine high C’s as an encore and it brought down the house.
But it seems there may be another King of the High C’s in the making.
He is a native of New Orleans (isn’t that fitting?) and he is America tenor Bryan Hymel (below, in a photo by Dario Acosta for Warner Classics), who was recently featured on the terrific blog “Deceptive Cadence” for NPR (National Public Radio).
You will surely be hearing more about him. The 35-year-old Hymel has already made his debut at the famed Metropolitan Opera, where he has sung in “Les Troyens” by Hector Berlioz — a role he also sang at the Royal Opera House in London. And he will open the Met’s 2018 season in “Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saens.
Here is a link to that story by Tom Huizenga. It is complete with sound samples from Hymel’s debut album “Héroïque” — in particular the difficult aria “Asile héréditaire” from the opera “William Tell” by Giachino Rossini — and the CD features a total of 19 high C’s. That led Huizenga to proclaim: “This is why we listen to opera!”
The Amazon.com reader reviews of the new all-French album (below, with an audiovisual clip of the behind-the-scenes recording process) not only praise Hymel for his high C’s – and C-sharps and even D’s — but single out the quality of his singing.
You can hear that strong, pitch-accurate and seemingly effortless quality in one of The Ear’s favorite tenor arias: “Nessun dorma” from “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini, which Hymel signs with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in a YouTube video at the bottom.
By Jacob Stockinger
Perhaps you have read about the rapidly escalating cost of great musical instruments.
That puts a lot of younger or less well-known, cash-strapped players in a difficult spot.
For quite a while, banks and other financial institutions as well as museums and historical institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution have been putting the investment-quality instruments on loan to younger players whose playing deserves the instrument.
But individuals can do so too.
Take the case of the pioneering conductor Marin Alsop (below), a protégée of Leonard Bernstein who now heads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Sao Paulo State Symphony in Brazil, and who is being mentioned as a prominent candidate to follow Alan Gilbert when he steps downs from the podium of the New York Philharmonic in 2017.
When both her parents, who were distinguished professional musicians, died last year, they left behind valuable string instruments — a violin and a cello.
Alsop didn’t want to sell the instruments.
But she also didn’t want them to lie unused and defeat their original purpose.
So Alsop (below, in a photo by Gabriella Dumczek of The New York Times) decided to turn the violin and cello into living memorials by placing them on loan with players in her Baltimore orchestra -– a move that has benefitted everyone and the instruments as well.
Here is a story from The New York Times:
It gives you ideas about what might be done on the local level, where some very fine instruments – including pianos — could benefit some very young but very fine local players who otherwise couldn’t afford to have them.
By Jacob Stockinger
The big classical music events this week are the week-long residency at the UW-Madison of British composer Cecilia McDowall; the organ recital by Thomas Trotter in Overture Hall; and Friday night’s concert of Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert and Vittorio Giannini by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra with pianist Shai Wosner under conductor Andrew Sewell.
But there are other important events on tap too, events that should attract audiences.
This week’s FREE Friday Noon Musicale, which runs from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed First Unitarian Society of Madison at 900 University Bay Drive, features the Mad Reeds Trio. Members include Laura Medisky, oboe (below); Cynthia Cameron-Fix, bassoon; and Vincent Fuh, piano.
At 8 p.m. in Shannon Hall of the Wisconsin Union Theater, the critically acclaimed and popular a cappella singing group Chanticleer will perform. The San Francisco-based group performs “Shenandoah” in a YouTube video at the bottom that has drawn more than 730,000 hits.)
Tickets are: General Public: $45, 25; Wisconsin Union Members and Non UW-Madison Students: $40; UW-Madison Faculty & Staff: $42; UW-Madison Student (with ID): $10. Prices do not include fees.
Here is a link with detail of the eclectic program that runs from early music and the Renaissance to jazz and Bossa Nova:
And here is a link to the concert announcement with video and audio clips:
At 1:30 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall on the UW-Madison campus GUEST ARTIST Laura Loge, soprano (below), with pianist Kathryn Ananda-Owens, a graduate of Memorial High School in Madison who teaches piano at St. Olaf College, will perform a recital featuring Norwegian songs by Edvard Grieg, Grondahl, Frederick Delius, Kjerulf, Christian Sinding and Alnaes.
Admission is FREE.
The concert is supported by funding from the Ygdrasil Literary Society of Madison, Vennelag Lodge, Idun Lodge #74 Sons of Norway, the Madison Torske Klubben, and by the Anonymous Fund.
At 2 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW-Madison Concert Band, under director Mike Leckrone (below), will give a FREE concert. Sorry, no word about the program.
At 2:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel, 1000 Edgewood College Drive, the Edgewood Chamber Orchestra, under director Blake Walter (below in a photo by John Maniaci), will give its Winter Concert.
Admission is $5 to benefit music scholarships; FREE with Edgewood College ID.
Included on the program is the aria “Come Scolio” from the opera “Cosi fan Tutte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, featuring soprano Angela Sheppard (below), winner of the Edgewood College Music Department’s Student Concerto Competition, as well as a three-time recipient of the Ken and Diane Ballweg Music Scholarship. Also on the program are the Overture to “L’isola Disabitata” by Franz Joseph Haydn and the Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, D. 125, by Franz Schubert.
At 3:30 p.m. in Mills Recital Hall, a FREE recital will present this year’s winners of the annual Irving Shain Woodwind-Piano Duo Competition at the UW-Madison School of Music.
A reception will follow the performance.
The competition and concert are made possible by retired UW-Madison Chancellor and chemistry professor Irving Shain (below).
The 2014-15 WINNERS are
Kai-Ju Ho, clarinet and SeungWha Baek, piano.
Iva Ugrcic, flute (below top, playing recently in the UW Concerto Competition winners’ concert) and Thomas Kasdorf, piano (below bottom).
Pedro Garcia, clarinet and Chan Mi Jean, piano.