The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev returns to Madison to give a master class and to perform a solo recital of Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Gershwin at Farley’s House of Pianos this Sunday afternoon

November 8, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

If you recall the name of Ilya Yakushev (below), it is no doubt from the two impressive concerto appearances by the Russian virtuoso with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and conductor Andrew Sewell.


Madison audiences will finally have a chance to hear Yakushev, who directs the International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, in a solo recital.

It will be held this coming Sunday afternoon, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m. at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on the city’s far west side near the West Towne Mall. The concert is part of the Salon Concert Series, and a reception will follow the performance.

Tickets are $45, $10 for students. You can call (608) 271-2626 or go online (see below).

The program includes: Sonata in D Major by Franz Joseph Haydn; the Sentimental Waltz by Peter Tchaikovsky; “Pictures at an Exhibition,” in the original solo piano version, by Modest Mussorgsky; and a solo piano version of “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin.  (You can hear Yakushev play the opening part of the Mussorgsky in the YouTube video at the bottom)

On this Saturday, Nov. 11, at 4 p.m. Ilya Yakushev will also teach a master class at Farley’s House of Pianos. Yakushev will instruct three pianists, all of whom are on the piano faculty at Farley’s House of Pianos. This is a FREE event that the public is invited to observe.

The Master Class program includes: Stravinsky’s Piano Sonata (1924) – First movement, performed by Jason Kutz; Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major, Op. 109 “Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo,” performed by Kangwoo Jin; and Ravel’s “Miroirs” (Mirrors) – Third movement “Une barque sur l’ocean” (A Boat on the Ocean) performed by Jonathan Thornton.

For more information about the artist, the program, the master class. other concerts and tickets, go to:

http://salonpianoseries.org/concerts.html

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Classical music: This weekend brings two major piano recitals – by UW-Madison virtuoso Christopher Taylor and Italian duo-pianists Roberto Plano and Paola Del Negro – plus a public piano master class

September 20, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

As you have already seen from this week’s postings so far, this coming weekend is loaded with conflicting concerts.

One result is that events that would normally receive separate postings must be combined.

Such is the case today, with previews of two very appealing piano concerts plus a master class.

SATURDAY

This Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the celebrated UW-Madison pianist Christopher Taylor (below), a bronze medalist in the Van Cliburn Competition, will perform a terrifically well-planned recital that is a classic case of contrast-and-compare, and reveals how music begets more music.

Here are some notes from the School of Music about the program:

“Christopher Taylor’s conceptual program features Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, arranged by Franz Liszt.

Over 175 years later, New York City-based composer John Corigliano would use Beethoven’s Seventh to inspire his Fantasia on an Ostinato. (You can hear the famous slow movement with the “ostinato,” or continually repeated musical phrase or rhythm, that inspires it in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

On the second half, Taylor will feature two takes on the title “Moments Musicaux” or Musical Moments: first, he will play Franz Schubert’s version, published in the last year of his life (1828); then he’ll perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s version from the start of his career.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for non-School of Music students and children. Ticket information is here.

SATURDAY and SUNDAY

On Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m., as part of the Salon Piano Series, the Italian husband-and-wife piano duo of Roberto Plano and Paola Del Negro (below) will hold a FREE and PUBLIC master class with local students at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side near the West Towne Mall.

Then on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., in the main showroom at Farley’s, the duo will perform.

The program features: “Pictures from the East” (Bilder aus Osten), Op. 66, by Robert Schumann; Burgmein’s (aka Ricordi) Suite “Les amoureux de Colombine”; Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dances 1-5; “The Moldau” by Bedrich Smetana; and Brahms’ Sonata for Two Pianos, Op. 34b, which later became his famous Piano Quintet.

Tickets are $45 for the public and $10 for full-time students.

For more information about tickets and biographies of the performers, go to: http://salonpianoseries.org/concerts.html

You can also call (608) 271-2626.


Classical music: The Oakwood Chamber Players open their new season with three concerts this weekend that feature music by Chick Corea, Bruce Broughton, Alexander Arutiunian and others

September 5, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Oakwood Chamber Players (below) officially begin their 2017-2018 season series with the theme “Journey” this coming weekend with a concert titled Departure on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 10, at 2 p.m.

However, the Oakwood Chamber Players will also present a special performance at Bos Meadery (below), 849 E. Washington Ave., on this Friday night, Sept. 8, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in a range of music choices that will include excerpts from the Departure concert along with a breadth of other styles of music. Donations will be accepted.

The two full-length concerts will both be held at the Oakwood Center for Arts and Education, 6209 Mineral Point Road, on the far west side of Madison near the West Towne Mall.

Guest artists pianist Joseph Ross, violist Sharon Tenhundfeld (below top) and violinist Maureen McCarty (below bottom) will join members of the Oakwood Chamber Players to launch their season.

Tickets can be purchased with cash or personal checks (no credit cards) at the door: $25 general admission, $20 seniors and $5 students.

For tickets and more information, go to www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com or call (608) 230-4316.

According to a press release, “Departure will explore composers’ musical journeys as influenced by shifts in their artistic lives.

“Just two years after the start of his huge success in the expanding world of jazz-fusion, with renowned hits such as “Spain,” American composer and pianist Chick Corea (below) wrote his Trio for flute, bassoon and piano in 1973.

“He created a fascinating blend — a classical style that both reflects his personal jazz-like fluidity at the keyboard but also transfers the sense of conversational-like interactions that occurs between players. (You can hear Chick Corea’s Trio in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

“This succinct piece is infused with the composer’s essential and recognizable artistic voice. Corea bridges the boundary between genres in an artful and engaging way, creating a brief snapshot of two artistic worlds joined through the piece’s synergy.

“Academy Award-winning and Emmy award-winning film composer Bruce Broughton (below) has consistently contributed to the world of chamber music literature. Broughton’s successes in the film industry include Young Sherlock Holmes, Silverado and The Rescuers Down Under.

“His Primer for Malachi, for flute, clarinet, cello and piano, was written in anticipation of the birth of a grandchild in 1997. Through its five short movements the piece creates a programmatic feel. It begins with quiet introspection, progressing through each movement with increasing rhythmic and melodic intensity, peaking with an action-packed instrumental musical tag, and concluding by musically catching its breath, slowing in the final movement to calm and flowing lines, mirroring the opening effect.

“Known for his emotive melodies Armenian-Soviet pianist and composer Alexander Arutiunian wrote prolifically for orchestra, chamber music and film.

“Written in Armenia after spending several years in Moscow, the Concert Waltz for winds and piano is taken from his 1958 film score for the movie “About My Friend.” It is a wry waltz set in a minor key, and the composer infuses the familiar waltz dance form with a tongue-in-cheek sense of being on a slightly careening carousel. The piece sparkles with Armenian folk flavor and the energy is captivating.

“The Kaiserwaltz by Viennese composer Johann Strauss musically conjures up the grandeur of the ballroom. The piece was intended to symbolize ‘a toast of friendship’ between Germany and Austria. The waltz is full of upbeat musical declarations and graceful melodies.

“The Oakwood Chamber Players were pleased to discover that the piece had been reimagined from its full orchestral orchestration, written in 1889, to this delightful version, arranged in 1925 for chamber ensemble by Arnold Schoenberg (below). The grace of this music is refined and enduring.

“German composer and organist Max Reger’s perspective on compositional artistry was informed by the masters who came before him.

“However, perpetually fascinated by fugues, Reger (below) often wrote pieces that were very abstract. He worried about the lasting reputation of penning these kinds of ultra-academic compositions. He was an ardent admirer of Bach, Brahms and Beethoven and was very capable of writing a range of styles that were both accessible and rooted in the historic perspectives.

“In his Serenade for flute, violin, and viola, written just a year before his death, he sought to show the range of his compositional capabilities and to silence critics by leaving more approachable music for posterity. At this pivotal time he reached his goal ably, giving the performers an outstanding piece with nimble rhythms, memorable melodies, and the bright voicing of an upbeat sound palette.”

This is the first of five concerts in the Oakwood Chamber Players’ 2017-2018 season series entitled Journey. Remaining concerts will take place on Nov. 26; Jan. 13 and 14; March 10 and 11; and May 19 and 20.

The Oakwood Chamber Players are a professional music ensemble proudly supported by Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries and the Oakwood Foundation.


Classical music: The Oakwood Chamber Players announce their new season with the theme of “Journey”

August 10, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

Over many years, the Oakwood Chamber Players (below) have built a solid reputation for programming unusual composers and neglected works, all performed with first-rate playing.

(You can sample their recording for Naxos Records of a work by UW-Madison graduate Daron Hagen in the YouTube video at the bottom.) 

The new 2017-018 season, based on aspects of a JOURNEY is no exception.

Except where noted, performances are on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at Oakwood University Woods Center for Arts and Education, 6201 Mineral Point Road, on Madison’s far west side, not far from West Towne Mall.

The group writes:

“Join the Oakwood Chamber Players on our 2017-2018 season journey with composers whose music encompasses the animation and anticipation at departure and beyond. We’ll have something for adventure seekers as they consider the view over the ever-expanding horizon.

“We’ll stop over to stay a while with friends and see the future with those who forever influence the musical landscape. We will welcome both familiar and new faces as guest artists this season. Come along with us on the JOURNEY!”

JOURNEY

DEPARTURE

September 9/10, 2017

Strauss-Schoenberg   Kaiser-Walzer for mixed ensemble

Reger         Serenade for flute, violin and viola

Arutiunian        Concert Waltz for winds and piano

QUEST

November 26, 2017 (1 and 3:30 p.m.)

Blake               Snowman Suite for string quartet

Mozetich         Angels in Flight for mixed ensemble

Rutter               Brother Heinrich’s Christmas for vocal quartet,  narrator and     mixed ensemble

HORIZON

January 13/14, 2018

Casella            Serenade for mixed ensemble

Mikulka            Sunset 1892 for clarinet, viola and piano

Huber             Quintet for winds and piano

SOJOURN

March 10/11, 2018

Hofmann         Octet for mixed ensemble

Schoenberg       Presto for string quartet

Scott                  Cornish Boat Song for piano trio

Mendelssohn     Concert Piece for clarinet, bassoon and piano

LEGACY

May 19/20, 2018

Kaminski         String Quartet

Smit                Sextet for wind quintet and piano

Sekles             Capriccio – Yankee Doodle con variazioni for piano trio

2017-2018 Season Ticket Prices

Senior (62+) Single: $20 per concert

Senior (62+) Series: $85 for the season*

Adult Single: $25 per concert

Adult Series: $105 for the season*

Student Single: $5 per concert

*Season concert series offers five concerts at a 15% discount.  Tickets available at the door.

The Oakwood Chamber Players now accept payment via credit card as well as cash and check.

For more information, go to: https://www.oakwoodchamberplayers.com


Classical music: The Salon Piano Series at Farley’s House of Piano announces its new season of four concerts

August 8, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

The reliably virtuosic and musically enjoyable Salon Piano Series has just announced its 2017-18 season.

A piano duo, piano soloists and the Pro Arte Quartet provide traditional salon concert experiences with informal seating and restored pianos.

The 2017-18 Salon Piano Series season again includes piano soloists and ensembles typical of 19th-century European salon concerts, with well-known concert artists from Italy, Russia, Israel and Ireland.

According to a press release, the season’s offerings are:

Roberto Plano and Paola Del Negro Duo (below) on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at 4 p.m.

Italian husband and wife piano duo Roberto Plano and Paola Del Negro kick off the season with Schumann’s “Pictures from the East” (Bilder aus Osten, Op. 66), Brahms’ Hungarian Dances 1-5, “The Moldau” by Smetana, and Brahms’ Sonata for Two Pianos, Op. 34b, the earlier version of his great Piano Quintet. The duo will perform on one piano for the first half of the program and on two for the second half. (You can hear them perform Hungarian Dances by Brahms in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Ilya Yakushev (below) on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017 at 4 p.m.

Returning by popular demand, Ilya Yakushev will perform an exhilarating program of Haydn’s Piano Sonata in D Major, Tchaikovsky’s “Sentimental Waltz,” Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in his November concert.

Alon Goldstein (below top) and the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet (below bottom in a photo by Rick Langer) on Saturday night, March 10, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, March 11, 2018 at 4 p.m.

To accommodate the crowds, Salon Piano Series booked two performances for Alon Goldstein and the UW-Madison’s Pro Arte Quartet in March. Goldstein will perform selected Scarlatti sonatas solo, then the Pro Arte Quartet and bassist David Scholl will join him for Mozart Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K. 488, in a reduced arrangement, and the Brahms Piano Quintet, Op. 34.

John O’Conor (below) on Saturday, May 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

To cap off the season in May, the great Irish pianist John O’Conor will perform Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert in his first Salon Piano Series appearance.

Visit salonpianoseries.org for complete concert programs, and artist information.

All concerts are at Farley’s House of Pianos, at 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west wide near West Towne Mall. All concert includes a post-concert artist reception.

Tickets are $50 at the door or $45 in advance; season tickets are $150.

You can purchase tickets online at brownpapertickets.com or in-person at Farley’s House of Pianos. Service fees may apply.

About the Salon Piano Series

Now in its fifth season, Salon Piano Series was founded by Tim and Renée Farley to continue the tradition of intimate salon concerts at Farley’s House of Pianos.

The setting replicates that experienced by audiences throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and offers audiences the chance to hear artists whose inspiring performances are enhanced by the setting and the fine pianos.


Classical music: This Saturday night the Ancora String Quartet will perform a program that features works by Beethoven, Shostakovich and Niels Gade

July 25, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

As it has often done over its 16-year history, the Madison-based Ancora String Quartet (ASQ) will mix a relatively unknown work by a neglected composer into a program of more established chamber music by more well-known composers.

The program it will perform this coming weekend — and then again at “Sunday Afternoon Live From the Chazen” on Sunday, Aug. 6 — is no exception.

The program features: the String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp minor, Op. 108, by Dmitri Shostakovich; the String Quartet No. 1 in D Major, Op. 63, by Danish composer Niels Wilhelm Gade; and the String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Op. 18, No. 1, by Ludwig van Beethoven. (You can hear the melodious opening of the quartet by Niels Gade in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Members of the Ancora String Quartet (below, from left, in a photo by Barry Lewis) are violinists Wes Luke and Robin Ryan; violist Marika Fischer Hoyt; and cellist Benjamin Whitcomb.

Various members the Ancora String Quartet perform with such professional groups as the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, the Madison Bach Musicians;  members also teach both privately and publicly, including at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

The first performance takes place this coming Saturday night (NOT Friday night, as mistakenly listed earlier in a erroneous headline),  July 29, at 7:30 p.m., at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 1833 Regent St., on Madison’s near west side. There will be a FREE champagne reception after the concert

Tickets will be available at the door, and are for general seating. Ticket prices are $15 for the general public; $12 for seniors and students; and $6 for children under 12.

NOTE: The Ancora String Quartet will perform the same program on “Sunday Afternoon Live From The Chazen” in Brittingham Gallery No. 3  at the Chazen Museum of Art on Sunday, Aug. 6, starting at 12:30 p.m. It will be live-streamed that day from the museum’s website,  and then re-broadcast two weeks later at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, on WVMO, 98.7 FM, the “Voice of Monona.”

Here is a description of the program from the quartet:

“The ASQ offers a summer program of music from Europe’s northern, eastern and western corners. The Danish composer Niels Gade (below) reveals influences of Mendelssohn and Schumann in his lyrical and dreamy quartet. Seemingly from another planet, Shostakovich’s Quartet No. 7 is a masterpiece of ambivalent modernist paranoia, telling his story with brevity and wit.

“Last on the program is Beethoven’s first published string quartet, written on the cusp of the 18th century. It combines Haydn’s witty Classicism, and Mozart’s lyricism,​ with a vigor, brilliance and expansive vision that is Beethoven’s own. The second movement Adagio depicts in stark terms the tragic tomb scene from Shakespeare’s tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” while the other movements are distinguished by confidence, contrast, and contrapuntal complexity. ”

For more information about the performance and the quartet, including detailed biographies, go to:

http://ancoraquartet.com


Classical music: The Isabella Lippi Trio performs piano trios by Mozart, Shostakovich and Dvorak this Friday night at Farley’s House of Pianos

May 15, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

On this Friday night at 7:30 p.m., the Isabella Lippi Trio will perform in the Salon Piano Series at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison far west side near West Towne Mall.

The all-masterpiece program features the Piano Trio in B-flat major, K. 502, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, by Dmitri Shostakovich; and the famous “Dumky” Piano Trio by Antonin Dvorak. (You can hear the captivating opening of the “Dumky” Trio, played by the venerable Beaux Arts Trio, in the YouTube video at the bottom).

Tickets are $45.

Members of the trio are Madison violinist Isabella Lippi (below top), who is also the concertmaster of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra; Chicago cellist Paula Kosower (below middle); and Chicago pianist Kuang-Hao Huang (below).

For more information about the artists and about obtaining tickets, got to: http://salonpianoseries.org/concerts.html


Classical music Q&A: Do cellist Parry Karp and pianist Eli Kalman have favorite cello sonatas by Beethoven? What should audiences listen for this Friday night and Sunday afternoon? How did the two performers meet and develop their collaboration? Part 2 of 2. Plus, violist Mikko Utevsky gives a FREE recital of J.S. Bach and Shostakovich on Saturday night.

April 17, 2013
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ALERT: Mikko Utevsky — a prize-winning UW student violist as well as sometimes Madison Symphony Orchestra player and the founder-conductor of the Madison Area Youth Chamber Orchestra (MAYCO) — will give a viola recital at Capitol Lakes Retirement Home, 333 West Main Street, off the Capitol Square, at 7 P.M. this SATURDAY (NOT Thursday) night, April 20, and would love for a big audience to attend the FREE concert. The ambitious program includes playing J.S. Bach‘s Cello Suite No. 5, transcribed for viola; Dmitri Shostakovich’s late Viola Sonata; and a Kaddish by Tzvi Avni. Utevsky (below) will be accompanied by pianist John Jeffrey Gibbens. A reception will follow the concert.

MAYCO Mikko Utevsky by Steve Rankin

By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings one of the major and memorable events of the current season: Performances in two parts of the complete original works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

The performances will take place this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and this Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (NOT 3:30 p.m. as mistakenly first listed) in the concert hall at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side, near West Towne Mall.

The performers are longtime collaborators: University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of cello and Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp and UW-Oshkosh professor of piano Eli Kalman, who received his doctoral degree from the UW-Madison School of Music.

Tickets are $25 for each individual concert or $40 for the package of two. For more information call (608) 271-2626, go to Farley’s website. Here is a link:

http://www.farleyspianos.com/pages/events_main.html

Here are the programs for the two concerts:

Friday at 7:30 p.m.: Sonata In C Major, Op. 102 No. 1 (1815); Sonata in F Major, Op. 5 No. 1 (1796); Seven Variations on a theme “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, WoO 46 (1801); Sonata In D Major, Op. 102 No. 2 (1815)

Sunday at 4:30 p.m.: Twelve Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Oratorio “Judas Maccabeus,” WoO 45 (1796); Sonata In G Minor, Op. 5 No. 2 (1796); Twelve Variations on a theme “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, Op. 66 (1798); Sonata in A Major, Op. 69 (1807-8)

Both Parry Karp (below left) and pianist Eli Kalman (below right) agreed to answer a wide-ranging email Q&A. This is the second of two parts. The first part was posted yesterday and covered the evolution and development of Beethoven writing for the cello and piano throughout his career.

Parry Karp and Eli Kalman

Do you both have favorite works among Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano? Which ones and why?

Parry Karp: It sounds like a cliché, but whatever work I am playing at the moment is my favorite. A week and a half ago Eli and I played three of the works for the Music in Performance class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

We played an early sonata, a sets of variations and a late sonata. We were both struck by how completely different each work was and how magnificent they all were. The range is extraordinary. As my father (retired UW pianist Howard Karp) is fond of saying about Beethoven (below is a print of the young Beethoven): “He was great from the beginning, he just kept changing.” Probably the first Cello Sonata is the least performed, but when you are performing it, it is an overwhelming experience.

Eli Kalman: The one you are playing has always to sound like your favorite -– that is so true. But personally, I have a very strong connection to the fourth sonata, Op. 102, No. 1 (at bottom, in a YouTube video), and I am happy to overlook the words for the reasoning.  I could advocate for any sonata as for the first favorite in a rational manner, but I choose to go with my strongest emotional reaction regarding the fourth sonata.

young beethoven etching in 1804

What would you like audiences to listen for or hear in your performances of these works? Are there neglected works you would especially like people to pay attention to?

Parry Karp: In general, I don’t like to tell audiences what to listen for in performances. I think these works can be enjoyed and understood in many different ways and on many different levels. In fact every time I play, listen or study them I find new things.

However the works do demand intense concentration from the listener as well as the performer! This music doesn’t work as background music.

In addition to the sonatas, we are performing the three sets of variations that Beethoven wrote for piano and cello. The variation form is one that also held interest for Beethoven from early in his compositional career right through to the huge “33 Variations on a Theme of Diabelli” at the end. He was a master at writing variations and these three sets show that well. (Below is a manuscript sketch of Beethoven’s most popular Cello Sonata, Op. 69.)

Eli Kalman: It is fascinating to follow the composer’s mind at work along with the musically beautiful of many sorts. Instrumental musical treatment is usually of abstract nature but can turn also operatic at times. The singing and the interplay are worth listening to and the passion and the dedication with which the potential of the duo unfolds.

The collaboration is complex, exciting and never really predictable.  It is like a mountain of piano sound and one happy hiker — the cello climbing towards the highest peak.

Beethoven Ms. Cello Sonata Op. 69

You have played together a lot. Can you recall first getting together and tell us what makes your partnership – or any partnership — so successful?

Parry Karp: I first met Eli Kalman through a door! I walked by a studio and heard a pianist practicing Schumann’s Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor, a work rarely heard. I knocked on the door to find out who this excellent pianist was, and it was Eli.

It turned out he was in Madison auditioning for the graduate program in Collaborative Piano. He arrived in Madison the following fall in the graduate program and had an immediate impact on our string program.

He was very generously making it possibly for all of our advanced string students to perform the great piano-string duo repertoire of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Respighi, Bartok, Rachmaninoff, etc.

After a year Eli asked if we could do some playing together. I was only too happy to oblige. We have been performing together since that time, some 11 years. We have explored both much of the well-known repertoire as well as many works that we consider unjustly neglected works. It is always a great treat to have Eli as a duo partner.

Eli Kalman: Parry was the most inspiring musical figure of my last musical decade starting from his own recitals in which he was never letting go easily of any note and all the way to the his insatiable appetite for music. I never met somebody hanging on with so much passion to every measure — quite a model to follow!

How did we start? As a student, I told him once about my dream of including Rachmaninoff’s cello sonata and Ravel piano trio in my repertoire and he commented warmly: “You had a dream, let’s make this happen” – and this is how it started. Ten years later, we have shared so many wonderful and often challenging stage experiences in which we stay together serving music the best we can and continue to marvel about its powers.

Is there anything else you would like to say or add?

Parry Karp: We are very excited to be performing these seminal works at Farley’s House of Pianos, a beautiful intimate space, and a perfect environment for hearing these pieces. Eli and I rehearsed there yesterday and it was a wonderful treat.

There was a plethora of great pianos to chose from, “an embarrassment of riches” as it were. We picked an 1877 “Centennial” Steinway Concert Grand (below), lovingly and magnificently rebuilt by Farley’s. It seemed perfect for these two upcoming recitals.

Eli Kalman: One is fortunate if the repertoire, the partner and the concert series are special. In this case, Farley’s unique restoration of this piano is a significant addition to other aspects. Performing Beethoven’s complete cycle of piano and cello works is one of the most exciting moments of my musical life. We are looking forward to it very much!

Steinway Centennial


Classical music Q&A: Do Beethoven’s sonatas for cello and piano evolve, and how important are they in the overall cello repertoire? Cellist Parry Karp and pianist Eli Kalman discuss their upcoming performances on Friday night and Sunday afternoon at Farley’s House of Pianos of Beethoven’s complete music for piano and cello. Part 1 of 2.

April 16, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

This weekend brings one of the major and memorable events of the current season: Performances in two parts of the complete original works for cello and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

The performances will take place this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and this Sunday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (NOT 3:30 as mistakenly first announced) in the concert hall (below) at Farley’s House of Pianos, 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side, near West Towne Mall.

The performers are longtime collaborators: University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of cello and Pro Arte Quartet cellist Parry Karp and UW-Oshkosh professor of piano Eli Kalman, who received his doctoral degree from the UW-Madison School of Music.

Tickets are $25 for each individual concert or $40 for the package of two. For more information call (608) 271-2626, go to Farley’s website. Here is a link:

http://www.farleyspianos.com/pages/events_main.html

Here are the programs for the two concerts:

Friday at 7:30 p.m.: Sonata In C Major, Op. 102 No. 1 (1815); Sonata in F Major, Op. 5 No. 1 (1796); Seven Variations on a theme “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” from Mozart‘s opera, The Magic Flute, WoO 46 (1801); Sonata In D Major, Op. 102 No. 2 (1815)

 Sunday at 4:30 p.m.: Twelve Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Oratorio “Judas Maccabeus,” WoO 45 (1796); Sonata In G Minor, Op. 5 No. 2 (1796); Twelve Variations on a theme “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute, Op. 66 (1798); Sonata in A Major, Op. 69 (1807-8)

Both Parry Karp (below left) and pianist Eli Kalman (below right) agreed to answer a wide-ranging email Q&A. Their responses will run in two parts today and tomorrow. Today is Part 1:

Parry Karp and Eli Kalman

Where would you place the Beethoven cello sonatas and his other works in the overall cello repertoire? What makes them challenging individually and as a whole?

Parry Karp: The Beethoven Cello Sonatas are amongst the most important works in the cello-piano duo repertoire. These are seminal works, in that up until the time that Beethoven wrote the first two Sonatas, Op. 5, there had really never been works written for this combination of instruments in which both instruments had important music to play and were equal partners.

Before that, the duos for cello and keyboard had the cello performing the important music and the keyboard part was basically accompanying. However, Beethoven changed that for good with his generous duo compositions for piano and cello. While there was a wonderful precedence for duo repertoire by Mozart for keyboard and violin (well over 30 compositions) Mozart managed only 11 measures of a Sonata for piano and cello and then stopped!

Because there wasn’t a history of duo sonatas for piano and cello, I think Beethoven (below) felt freer to experiment when he wrote the Cello Sonatas. He wrote them throughout his entire career and with the exception of the great A Major Sonata, Op. 69, they are revolutionary works.

Beethoven big

The first two Sonatas of Op. 5 were written in 1796 when Beethoven was a brilliant young performing pianist and composer. These two Sonatas were written for the only “concert tour” Beethoven ever took. They are dedicated to King Frederick of Prussia who gave Beethoven a gold snuff box for his efforts.  The form of these early Sonatas is very unusual. Both of them are in two movements, and the first movements have very lengthy slow introductions.

As far as I know, no sonata allegro movement written up until these two Op. 5 Sonatas had a slow introduction that approaches the size and emotional scope of the ones found in these works. Also, the first movements of these two Sonatas are a bigger canvas than the first movement of any Haydn or Mozart Symphony, or previous work written by Beethoven up to this time.

The late Op. 102 Cello Sonatas are virtually the only works that he wrote in 1815 and are basically the first works completely in his  “late style.” If you know and love the five late Beethoven Piano Sonatas and haven’t heard these late Cello Sonatas, you are in for a treat getting to know them. The Op. 102 Cello Sonatas were actually written just before the Op. 101 Piano Sonata.

Most striking for me is how the relatively smaller Op. 102, No. 2, Cello Sonata seems to lead to the great and grand-scale “Hammerklavier” Piano Sonata, Op 106. Both works have incredibly profound and personal slow movements that lead into wild and thrilling last movement fugues; and there are even motivic similarities between the two works. It is as if Beethoven experimented with these new ideas initially with his new ensemble (the piano-cello duo) and then went to town with these ideas and expanded them in the Op. 106 Piano Sonata.

These works, as a whole, inspired composers from this time forward to the possibilities of writing outstanding works for this duo combination and the influence was immediate; both Mendelssohn and Hummel wrote Cello Sonatas that are strongly influenced by Beethoven’s Op. 69 Sonata. This influence has continued to the present day.

Eli Kalman: It is in some way confusing that although the cello and piano repertoire starts with Beethoven, the complete cycle of these works makes it sound more like the genre starts and ends at the same time. Playing all the works grants a sense of totality and the gratification of a complete journey.

The confusion is only enhanced by the unusual shapes and ideas of the early sonatas because of the formal eccentricity and the variety of what Beethoven deliberately planned to sound fresh and “unpredictable.

cello choir 2

How does the writing for the two parts – cello and piano – evolve separately and together from the first works to the last? Do the cello works show the same kind of musical and spiritual development as, say, the piano sonatas and string quartets?

Parry Karp: The works do evolve in a similar way to the piano sonatas and string quartets, but I am not sure they get better. The early works are amazing and compelling on an ultimate scale.

Eli Kalman: If the fugue of the last sonata would not contradict my statement, I would be comfortable saying that the composer moves each sonata towards the idea of “less is more” in the way he treats the piano writing. The later works prefer lesser notes and more transparency serving a very different affect.

Moving away from great classical principles of Op. 69 (the first movement is performed by pianist Glenn Gould and cellist Leonard Rose in a popular YouTube video), which is the ultimate expression of duo-sonata “perfection,” must have felt like a compositional necessity. Beethoven defines an unmatched and new type of musical sophistication.

Tomorrow: Do the performers have favorite cello sonatas by Beethoven? What should audiences listen for? How did the performers first get together?


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