The Well-Tempered Ear

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
4 Comments

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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