The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today brings the release of an impressive CD of clarinet duos and trios with UW-Madison cellist Uri Vardi and his clarinetist son Amitai Vardi

July 14, 2017
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By Jacob Stockinger

Today is when another outstanding recording by UW-Madison cellist Uri Vardi gets released by Delos Records.

The recording, which features clarinet trios by Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms and clarinet-cello duos by contemporary composer Jan Radzynski, has all the makings of another winner.

For one, the repertoire is a fine mix of the late Classical style (Beethoven), the  late Romantic style (Brahms) and modernistic nationalism (Radzynski).

It is, of course, a family affair, as  you can read about here in a story about the premiere of the Concerto Duos by Radzynski:

http://news.wisc.edu/music-deepens-connection-for-father-son-performers/

The Ear also finds the playing first-rate and the sound engineering exemplary.

None of that should come as a surprise. You may recall that last year Vardi (below) and his colleague UW-Madison violin professor David Perry, along with pianist Paulina Zamora, released a recording of the three piano trios by Brahms. It was acclaimed by no less than Gramophone magazine. Here is a link to that review:

https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/49269/page/3

The title of the new CD is Soulmates, and it seems fitting in so many ways that crisscross in many directions.

Here are notes from the educator and performer Uri Vardi:

“The title refers to friendship between composer and performer, as Jenny Kallick highlights in her liner notes.

“For his clarinet trio, Beethoven put to work the manners of a musical style that embraced the outward charm and lively sociability associated with the music of friends, interjecting his soon-to-be famous dramatic flashes only occasionally.

“Jan Radzynski (below) began his association with me in Israel, where the Vardi family from Hungary and Radzynski family from Poland first overlapped.

“Meeting once again during graduate studies at Yale School of Music, our friendship has been enriched by Jan’s project as an esteemed composer with multiple cultural ties to Poland, Israel, the US and Jewish tradition, and by my commitment as celebrated teacher and performer to collaborations across musical boundaries. Jointly, we have found ways to embrace the complexities of their origins and diaspora.

“The duo’s dedication to the entire Vardi family signals this deep connection.

“Nearly a century had passed before Brahms (below top) wrote for this same combination. Had it not been for his newly-blossomed musical friendship with clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld (below bottom, 1856-1907), a star performer in the Hofkapelle Orchestra at Saxe-Meiningen, the composer might have held to his recently announced plans to retire.

“On a more personal level, I admire composer Jan Radzynski’s music. I was moved by his gift to my son Amitai (below) — who teaches clarinet at Kent State University in Ohio — and me, and the rest of our family, of the Concert Duos. He presented the work to us in 2004, and we premiered it that same year.

“Brahms is the composer who influences me on the deepest level. Following the release of my previous CD by Delos, I was eager to record the fourth Brahms trio involving the cello, and was looking for an opportunity to add it to the other three trios.

“It is the greatest joy for me to play chamber music with my son. I was happy that both he, and my colleague and friend, pianist Arnon Erez (below), were ready to embark with me on the journey of performing and recording the three compositions on this CD.

“The UW Arts Institute awarded me the Emily Mead Baldwin Award, which helped me financially in releasing this CD. The recordings were done at the Jerusalem Music Center in Israel (which gave us their wonderful facilities free of charge).

“Sound engineer Victor Fonarov, who recorded this CD and started editing it, passed away before the completion of the work. So we decided to dedicate the album to his memory.

“Here is a promotional video, with a SoundCloud clip of the Beethoven work, for the recording:

https://delosmusic.com/recording/soulmates-cello-clarinet-piano/

“And you can hear an excerpt from Radzynski’s Duos in the YouTube video at the bottom.

“Interested readers can also purchase the album directly from Uri Vardi at: uvardi@wisc.edu”


Classical music: The Wisconsin Brass Quintet performs a FREE concert Thursday night on the UW-Madison campus.

October 21, 2015
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By Jacob Stockinger

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet, which is marking its 43rd anniversary this season, will give a FREE and PUBLIC performance this Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall.

The program includes: the Canzona per sonare No. 2 by the Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Gabrieli (ca. 1554-1612); “In the Zone” by UW-Madison alumnus Andrew Rindfleisch (b. 1963); the Brass Quintet by Ira Taxin (b. 1950); and Rounds and Dances for Brass Quintet by Jan Bach (b. 1937)

Members of the Wisconsin Brass Quintet are (below in a photo by Michael R. Anderson, left to right): Mark Hetzler, trombone; Matthew Onstad, trumpet; Tom Curry, tuba; John Aley, trumpet; Daniel Grabois, horn. 

Wisconsin Brass Quintet

Here is some background about the Wisconsin Brass Quintet:

Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.

The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.

In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble. Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.

With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

The quintet performs annual live radio broadcast concerts on Wisconsin Public Radio. Its three CD recordings, on the Summit, Mark and Crystal labels, feature music by John Stevens, Douglas Hill, Verne Reynolds, Daron Hagen, John Harbison and Enrique Crespo.

An earlier LP recording features the only recording of Jan Bach’s “Rounds and Dances” and Hilmar Luckhardt’s “Brass Quintet.” Each of these works was composed for the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, in keeping with the WBQ’s commitment to commissioning and performing new music of the 20th and 21st centuries. (You can hear the Wisconsin Brass Quintet perform a commissioned work in the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Barry Kilpatrick writes for the American Record Guide: “I’ve reviewed over 250 brass recordings in the past five years, and this is one of the very best. The WBQ is a remarkable ensemble that plays with more reckless abandon, warmth, stylistic variety and interpretive interest than almost any quintet in memory.”


Classical music: April is jam packed with classical music — and this weekend is no exception for chamber music, brass music, baroque vocal and instrumental music, plus piano trios and string trios.

April 10, 2013
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By Jacob Stockinger

In “The Wasteland,” poet T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.”

Well, for classical  music-lovers, the cruelty lies in the abundance of riches. It is hard to keep up with it all this month, or even this week.

I have already posted some big events. But there are other concerts to attend – almost all FREE — especially at the UW-Madison School of Music.

Here is a round-up of ones I haven’t yet covered:

FRIDAY

The weekly FREE Friday Noon Musicale Friday from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, 900 University Bay Drive, features Mozart’s Divertimento in E-flat, K. 563, with Eugene Purdue, violin (below); Rami Solomonow, viola; and Tom Rosenberg, cello.

Eugene Purdue 1 Thomas C. Stringfellow

SATURDAY

Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. in Grace Episcopal Church (below), “Grace Presents” will offer a FREE concert featuring the Madison-based wind quintet “Black Marigold.”

The program will feature excerpts from the program for the three Spring concert dates: Anton Reicha’s Quintet in E-flat, Op. 88, No. 2; Robert Muczynski’s Quintet for Winds; György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles; and Bill Douglas’ “Suite Cantabile.”

MBM Grace altar

For the Madison dates (April 13 at Grace Episcopal and Friday, April 19, the FREE Noon Musicale from 12:15 to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society, 900 University Bay Drive) the group will be selecting from this program. For the Platteville concert at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at the UW-Platteville, the program will be performed in its entirety. The Overture EngAGES programs are still To Be Determined but the dates are May 15 at Madison Senior Center at 1:30 p.m.; May 16 at Attic Angels West at 10 a.m.; and May 17 at Oakwood Village West, 7 p.m. 

Members of Black Marigold are Elizabeth Marshall, flute; Laura Medsiky, oboe; Bethany Schultz, clarinet; Kia Karlen, horn; and Cynthia Cameron Fix, bassoon.

Find more information at www.blackmarigold.com

Black Marigold 2

On Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall, the UW Concert Choir (below), under Beverly Taylor and her assistant Brian Gurley, will present its Spring Concert. Admission is FREE. 

The concert will include a motet group of works by Philips, Mouton, Bruckner and Vulpius,  a group of Debussy works, Britten works, Poulenc works and a mixture of Americana including works by Barber, Copland, and folksong arrangements.

The top-tier choir of 45 members sings a variety of primarily a cappella choral literature from all eras. Singers in Concert Choir have significant vocal and choral experience, as well as high sight reading ability, and many are voice majors. In late May, the group will embark on a performance tour of France.

Concert Choir

The Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble will close out its current season this Saturday night at 8 p.m. in the historic Gates of Heaven Synagogue (below) in James Madison Park, 300 East Gorham St., in downtown Madison.

The program features music of the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically Baroque vocal and instrumental chamber music.

Tickets are at the door only: $15 for the public, $10 for students.

Gates of Heaven

The musicians in the Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble (below) are: Eric Miller – viola da gamba, cello; Chelsie Propst – soprano; Monica Steger – harpsichord; Anton TenWolde – cello, viola da gamba.

The program includes selections from “Pieces de Viole,  Book 2” by Main Marais; “Dulcis amor” by Isabella Leonarda; Sinata in E minor for cello and basso continuo by Giovanni Battista Bononcini; “Susanne” by Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre;

Madison: “Canzon prima a 2 bassi” by Giralamo Frescobaldi; and “L’Astratto” by Barbara Strozzi.

For more information, call (608) 238-5126 or visit

www.wisconsinbaroque.org

Wisconsin Baroque Ensemble composite

SUNDAY

This week’s “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” – broadcast live by Wisconsin Public Radio from 12:30 to 2 p.m. from Brittingham Gallery 3 of the Chazen Museum of Art — features the Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as artists in residence at the UW-Madison.

The program includes Gesualdo’s Suite of Madrigals, arranged by Mark Hetzler; John Harbison’s “Magnum Mysterium”; Macmillan’s “Adam’s Rib”; and Daniel Grabois’ “Grabois: Gravilord.”

Wisconsin Brass Quintet Cr Katrin Talbot

Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Music.

The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison, Daron Hagen and many other composers.

In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble.

Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill have also composed many works for the group.

With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

Members of the Chazen Museum of Art or Wisconsin Public Radio can reserve seats for Sunday Afternoon Live performances. Seating is limited.

All reservations must be made Monday through Friday before the concert and claimed by 12:20 p.m. on the day of the performance. For reservations or membership information contact the Chazen Museum at (608) 263-2246.

A reception will follow the performance with coffee, tea, and treats donated by local businesses. Donors this semester include Fresh Madison Market, Steep & Brew and the University Club.

A free docent-led tour in the Chazen galleries begins every Sunday at 2 p.m.

SAL3

On Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall, the Trio Antigo will present a FREE concert of music by Shostakovich and Mendelssohn.

This trio (below) is comprised of cellist Stefan Kartman of UW-Milwaukee; Felicia Moye, UW-Madison Professor of Violin; and pianist Jeannie Yu.

(Note: Kartman and Moye also will present a master class on Saturday at 3 p.m. in Humanities Building, Room 1341.)

The program will include Piano Trio, Op. 67 by Dmitri Shostakovich and Priano Trio in C minor, Op. 66 by Felix Mendelssohn. (A sample of the beautiful Mendelssohn trio performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Emanuel Ax can be heard in the YouTube video below.)

Trio Antigo

This concert is part of a reciprocal residency between UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, funded in part by a Bolz grant for Faculty Research. The trio will be in residence at UW-M April 19-21, and will present a concert at the Peck School of the Arts on April 21.

The trio also received a Dane Arts grant to present outreach concerts in Dane County, which will be taking place on April 27 and 28. In fact, the April 28 concert will be a fundraiser to benefit local nonprofit Music Con Brio, Inc., which provides high-quality, low-cost music lessons to underprivileged children on Madison’s East Side.

Felicia Moye (below) is currently Professor of Violin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of Trio Antigo. She has also served as Professor of Violin at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada, the University of Oklahoma, the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and the pre-college division of The Juilliard School as Ivan Galamian and Margaret Pardee’s assistant.

Felicia Moye color

Stefan Kartman (below) has served on the faculties of Drake University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Rutgers University, and is currently Associate Professor of Cello and Chamber Music at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Here is a link to his site:

http://stefankartman.com/Stefan_Kartman_Website/Concert_Schedule.html

Stefan Kartman cello

Pianist Jeannie Yu was awarded first prize in the Frinna Awerbuch Piano Competition in New York, the Flint Symphony International Concerto Competition, the Portland Symphony International Concerto Competition, and the Kingsville Piano Competition in Texas. She also earned the prestigious Gina Bachauer Memorial Scholarship Award, a full scholarship for the master’s degree program at The Juilliard School of Music where she also received the bachelor’s degree. Subsequently she was awarded an accompanist fellowship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she received her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree.


Classical music: The Wisconsin Brass Quintet marks 40 years with a FREE concert and a world premiere this Friday night at the University of Wisconsin.

October 18, 2012
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REMINDER: On Saturday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in Morphy Recital Hall, UW clarinetist Linda Bartley (below, in a photo by Katrin Talbot) will perform a FREE concert  with Jeannie Yu, piano; and Sally Chisholm, viola. The program includes “Sonata in D” by Nino Rota; “Liquid Ebony” by Dana Wilson; “Cantilene” by Louis Cahuzac and “Scarlattiana for ClarinetViola and Piano” by Walter Mays.

By Jacob Stockinger

The acclaimed Wisconsin Brass Quintet (below in a photo by Katrin Talbot from 2011) will mark its 40th anniversary as artists-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Music with a FREE concert tomorrow night (Friday, Oct. 19) at 8 p.m. in Mills Hall.

This program is dedicated to the memory of tuba player Jeff Hodapp (1957-2009, below), a former student, colleague and friend of members of the quintet  (below, who are, from the left,  Daniel Grabois, horn; Jessica Jensen, trumpet (unpictured); John Stevens, tuba; John Aley, trumpet; and Mark Hetzler, trombone.)

The concert will feature “Concert in D” by Igor Stravinsky, arranged by the group’s trombonist Mark Hetzler (below top, in a photo by Katrin Talbot); “Four English Madrigals” transcribed for brass quintet by Stephanie Frye; “Brass Quintet” by Ira Taxin; the world premiere of “Hodesanna” by UW composer John Stevens (below bottom), composed in memory of Jeff Hodapp; and “Quintette Victoria” by Ivan Jevtic.

Here is a link to a history with biographies of the five members:

http://www.music.wisc.edu/wisconsin-brass

Founded in 1972, the Wisconsin Brass Quintet is a faculty ensemble-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. The quintet’s musical expertise has been acknowledged by Verne Reynolds, Jan Bach, Karel Husa, John Harbison (below), Daron Hagen and many other composers.

In addition to performing with the WBQ, the players have also been members of the American Brass Quintet, Empire Brass Quintet and Meridian Arts Ensemble.

Quintet members John Stevens and Daniel Grabois and former member Douglas Hill (below) have also composed many works for the group.

With extensive performances throughout the Midwest and nationally, including appearances at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall and Merkin Concert Hall, the quintet’s educational programs and master classes have been presented in such prestigious settings as The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music.

They perform annual live radio broadcast concerts on Wisconsin Public Radio. Their three CD recordings, on the Summit, Mark and Crystal labels, feature music by John Stevens, Douglas Hill, Verne Reynolds, Daron Hagen, John Harbison (below) and Enrique Crespo.

An earlier LP recording features the only recording of Jan Bach’s “Rounds and Dances” and Hilmar Luckhardt’s “Brass Quintet.” (A photo of Jan Bach is below.)

Each of these works was composed for the Wisconsin Brass Quintet, in keeping with the WBQ’s commitment to commissioning and performing new music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Barry Kilpatrick writes for the American Record Guide: “I’ve reviewed over 250 brass recordings in the past five years, and this is one of the very best. The WBQ is a remarkable ensemble that plays with more reckless abandon, warmth, stylistic variety and interpretive interest than almost any quintet in memory.”


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