Playlist 5 June

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

James Winn. Foramen Habet. Robert Black. The Art of Robert Black. 1995. Bridge

Ellen Band & Adele Armin. Swinging Sings. Ellen Band. 90% Post Consumer Sound. 2000. XI Records

Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elsenbroich, Alexei Grynyuk. Butterflies Remember a Mountain. Arlene Sierra. Butterflies Remember a Mountain. 2018. Bridge

Quatuor Varèse. Quatuor en Fa Majeur Op 35. Maurice Ravel. Adès, Dutilleux & Ravel. 2016. NoMadMusic

Erin Aldridge & Gene Koshinski. Ecossaises for violin and marimba. Justin Henry Rubin. Constellations. 2011. MSR Classics

Daan Vanderwalle. O.A. (Onder Andere). Elizabeth Hoffman. Chamber Music 2002-03. 2003. Albany

Paul Neubauer & Margo Garrett. Suite Hebraique for Viola & Piano. Ernest Bloch. Bloch: Music for Viola & Piano. 2018. Delos

Leonard Pennario, Jascha Heifetz, Grego Piatigorsky. Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello No 1. Joaquin Turina. The Heifitz Piatigorsky Concerts. 2013. SONY

The Coull String Quartet. String Quartet Bo 2 in F Major. Sergei Prokofiev. Prokofiev String Quartets. 1999. Hyperion

Mark Kosower. Cello Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 8. Victor Herbert. Herbert: Cello Concertos Nos. 1-2, & Irish Rhapsody. 2016. Naxos

Frédérique Cambreling. Stretto for Harp. Patrick Marcland. Patrick Marcland 8 Solos. 2011. Sismal Records


Music in Search of Home

Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home.
Edward Dusinberre.
2022, University of Chicago Press
233 p. Illustrations, notes, index.

As a former student of cello I would read with great appetite about the art of string quartet playing. In 1999 Guarneri Quartet violinist Arnold Steinhardt published his memoir, “Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony,” which I enjoyed immensely.

I listened to string quartet music deeply, and in the process became a fan of the Takács quartet. And so when I learned about violinist Edward Dusinberre’s “Distant Melodies” I wasted no time acquiring a copy.

I had the opportunity to interview him in 2017 in Madison Wisconsin as the Takács toured the Midwest. I was impressed by his humanity and articulate insights.

This book, his second, is inspired by the music and the personal stories of Benjamin Britten, Bela Bartok, and Antonin Dvorak, all of whom spent time in the U.S., and whose nostalgia for their homelands shaped their compositions: Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904), born in Bohemia, Austrian Empire (now in Czech Republic) lived in Spillville, Iowa; Hungarian Bela Bartok (1881-1945) relocated to Manhattan, upstate New York, and Asheville, NC; and Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) born in Suffolk, England lived in California and Long Island.

Himself a Britain living in Boulder, Colorado, Dusinberre also feels nostalgia for his homeland.

The largely self-taught Edward Elgar (1857-1934) was born in Worcester, England; he did not live abroad but did spend much of his composing time in a remote cottage and Englishness informed his music.

The Composers

As a result of his seemingly inexhaustible appetite for research, Dusinberre provides archival photos and brief but substantial biographies of these composers based on their letters, previously published biographies, newspaper articles, and Dusinberre’s many field trips to places where composers lived, even temporarily. He portrays their lives, health, lovers, spouses, mentors, students, houses, families, patrons and commissions.

As members of today’s Takács Quartet must spend (? far too) much time on buses and taxis and airplanes, these profiled composers spent (? far too) much time on ships and trains.

Across the course of these chapters Dusinberre details the composition history of seven pieces in the quartet’s repertoire, the place each piece holds in each composer’s opus, and their personal, historical,  and cultural contexts, the latter including mentions of Tom Stoppard, A. E. Housman, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, F. Scott Fitzgerald, E. M. Forster, Tom Wolfe, Rimbaud, and even Ovid.

As musician, Dusinberre provides a front row (and behind the curtain) view of the rehearsals and peformances of Takács Quartet, named after founding member and first violinist Gábor Takács-Nagy.

Playing in an internationally ranked string quartet must be one of the most taxing and demanding lifeways imaginable. Besides maintaining mastery of one’s instrument and the group’s repertoire, such performers endure years and perhaps decades of the drudgery of life on the road: hotel rooms, jet lag, interpersonal frictions and their resolutions, and disruption of family life. Add to that the recent COVID pandemic which caused tour cancellations and concerts streamed from empty concert halls.

As much as the general reader will enjoy the stories of composers’ lives, musicians will appreciate the  detailed descriptions of rehearsals, debates about interpreting various pieces, the inspiration, and details of playing four-stringed instruments: bowing techniques and why they matter and how they change, interpreting the ebb and flow of phrases, creating oscillating quavers and semiquavers and glissandi, the natural harmonic series, mastering challenging passages.

As author, Dusinberre weaves in his personal story and those of the members of the TSQ, former and current.

He describes lovingly his early life, musical training, eccentric teachers, and his family (his mother was a Shakespeare scholar and his father a historian of America.)

Yet he is a humble man and through his self criticism, and growing self awareness over the years, we witness his changing perspective on musical interpretation and human relationships. His writing voice is human, and humorous, and perhaps most importantly, knowledgeable.

For the benefit of those who desire further reading the book provides a 3-page list of works cited, notes, and index.

This book inspires the reader to revisit his CD library and give more time to these composers and to their grandfather, Haydn.

Playlist 29 May

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

North / South Chamber Orchestra. Serenata No. 1. Brian Banks. Crosscurrents (Music for Chamber Orchestra By American Composers). 2011. North / South Recordings

Oslo String Quartet. String Quartet No 2 in G Minor Op 13. Carl Nielsen. Nielsen String Quartets Vol 2. 2000. Naxos

Trio 826. Tanec (Dance). Hans Krasa. Mosaic. 2016. Blue Griffin Recording, Inc.

Trio 826. Intermezzo. Zoltan Kodaly. Mosaic. 2016. Blue Griffin Recording, Inc.

Peter Sheppard Skaerved. Thesaurus of Violinistic Fiendishness, Book 1: No. 1. Riding the Comet’s Tail. Paul Pellay. Pellay: Thesaurus of Violinistic Fiendishness, Books 1-7. 2013. Metier

Michelle Makarski. Concert Duo for Violin and Piano. Yehudi Wyner. Cage/Harbison/Hartke/Wyner: Violin Works. 1991. New World Records

Nina Kotova. Sonata for Solo Cello Op 25 No 1. Paul Hindemith. Solo Cello. 2023. Delos

London Philharmonia Orchestra. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra: I, II. Arnold Schoenberg. The Music of Arnold Shoenberg Vol IV. 2000. KOCH International

Quatuor Molinari. String Quartet No. 5. Petros Shoujounian. Noravank: Shoujounian’s String Quartets Nos. 3-6. 2016. ATMA Classique

Musicians of the Manchester Music Festival. Trio for Piano and Strings. Vittorio Giannini. Giannini Chamber Music. 2011. Manchester Music Festival

Duo Gazzana. Theme et variations for violin and piano. Olivier Messiaen. Ravel – Franck – Ligeti – Messiaen. 2018. ECM New Series

Playlist 22 May

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

Nikolai Demidenko. Études-tableaux, Op. 39: No. 3 4 5. Sergei Rachmaninov. Demidenko plays Rachmaninov. 1994. Hyperion

Adam Estes & Stacy Rodgers. Sonata. Lawton Lunde. Puzzles. 2016. Albany

Gavin String Trio. String Trio. Paul Chihara. Paul Chihara: Take the ‘A’ Train. 2017. Bridge

Pacifica Quartet. String Quartet (1931). Ruth Crawford Seeger. Declarations Music Between the Wars. 2006. Cedille

Latvia National Symphony Orchestra. Botschaft. Peteris Vasks. Cantabile per archi. 1993. Wergo

Lisa Moore. Tender, Infinitely Tender. Michael Byron. Halcyon Days. 2023. Cold Blue Music

Michelle LaCourse & Martin Amlin. Sonata. Martin Amlin. An American Menagerie. 2015. MSR Classics

Leonore Piano Trio. Piano Trio No 2 Op 61. David Matthews. David Matthews Complete Piano Trios. 2017. Toccata Classics

Cavaleri Quartet. Cuarteto Iberico. David Dubery. David Dubery Observations. 2014. Divine Art

Albany Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Allen Miller. The Great Gatsby Suite I: Allegro moderato. John Harbison. The Great Gatsby Suite. 2015. Albany

David Holzman. Four Studies on Basic Rows. Stefan Wolpe. Music of Stefan Wolpe, Vol. 6. 2011. Bridge Records

Playlist 15 May

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

Relache Ensemble. Double Take. Joseph Koykkar. Double Takes and Triple Plays. 2016. Ravello

Joseph Koykkar. Interview about New Music Ensemble concert. 2023.

Relache Ensemble. Panache. Joseph Koykkar. Double Takes and Triple Plays. 2016. Ravello

Karen Gottlieb. In a Landscape. John Cage. Music for Harp. 2015. Innova

Naomi Seidman, Jonathan Dexter & Jano Duo. Chroma. Cherise Leiter. Dreaming in Color. 2017. Albany Records

Douglas Masek, David Speltz & Louise Thomas. Irrational Exuberance. Bruce Babcock. Fleeting Realms. 2017. Navona

Amernet Quartet. Meta 4. Xavier Rodriguez. Above All, Women. 2018. Albany

Brno Philharmonic & Huifang Chen. Violin Concerto No 1 Hypnagogia. Thomas Sleeper. Four Concerti. 2014. Albany

Claire Happel Ashe. Clair-Obscur. James Moore. Desolation Pops. 2023. New World Records

Vesna Duo. The Rite of Spring Part I: 1-4. Igor Stravinsky. The Rite of Spring. 2022.

Rubenstein, Heifitz, Piatigorsky. Trio in A Minor. Maurice Ravel. Heifitz-Piatigorsky Concerts. 1951. RCA Red Seal – SONY

Julie Welbourne et al. Modus Operandum. Joseph Koykkar. Expressed in Units. 1992. Northeastern Records

Joseph Koykkar. Interview about New Music Ensemble concert. 2023.

Orion String Quartet. String Quartet No. 1 “Astral”. David Dzubay. All Water Has a Perfect Memory. 2019. Innova

Playlist 8 May

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. Etruscan Concerto. Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Lou Harrison: Seven Pastorales. 1992. Music Masters Classics

The Alexander String Quartet. String Quartet No 2 Op 10. Zoltan Kodaly. Bela Bartok Zoltan Kodaly. 2013. Foghorn Classics

Christopher Roberts. Flying; Mesto. Christopher Roberts. Trios for Deep Voices. 2009. Cold Blue Music

Naomi Seidman, Jonathan Dexter (Jano Duo). Pre-sent: I. Enamored. Efrain Amaya. Dreaming in Color. 2017. Albany Records

Alison Bjorkedal & Matt Sargent. Splectra, Pt. 1. Robert Carl. Robert Carl: Splectra – Single. 2019. Cold Blue Music

Keith Jarrett & New Japan Philharmonic. Piano Concerto, I, II. Lou Harrison. Works by Lou Harrison. 1988. New World

Amernet String Quartet. String Quartet No 5. Steven R. Gerber. Steven R. Gerber: String Quartets. 2015. Albany Records

John McCabe. Chapitres tournes en tous sens. Erik Satie. Piano Masterpieces. 2005. Regis Records

The Olivan Consort. Seduccion. Miguel del Aguila. Refuge. 2014. Albany

Adam Estes & Stacy Rodgers. Sonata Op 19. Paul Creston. Puzzles. 2016. Albany

Volkan Orhon. Notes from Uncommon Ascent. Tom Schuttenhelm. Multiplicity. 2003. Volkan Orhon`

Philippe Entremont, New York Philharmonic & Leonard Bernstein. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 3. Bela Bartok. Bartok Concerti and Rhapsodies. 1992. SONY Classical

Playlist May 1

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

Quirine Viersen. Cello Suite No 2 Op 80. Benjamin Britten. Britten: Cello Suites. 2016. Globe

Airi Yoshioka & Jose Lacerda. A River Rose. Stuart Saunders Smith. A River Rose: Music for Violin. 2014. New World

The Oivan Consort. Trio. Aram Khachaturian. Refuge. 2014. Albany

Schumann Quartett. String Quartet No. 2. Charles Ives. Mozart, Ives & Verdi: String Quartets. 2015. Ars Produktion

Indiana University New Music Ensemble & David Dzubay. Double Black Diamond (Version for Chamber Orchestra). David Dzubay. All Water Has a Perfect Memory. 2019. Innova

Campbell Ross. Si Un Dia El Olvido. Gerardo Dirie. Concertante: Modern Works for Guitar. 2018. Ravello Records

Joseph Lulloff & Yu-Lien The. Three Songs Without Words. Carter Pann. New Stories. 2023. Blue Griffin

Kay Stern, Emil Miland & Keisuke Nakagoshi. Piano Trio. David Conte. Chamber Music of David Conte. 2015. Albany Records

Amar Quartet. String Quartet No. 1 in C Major, Op. 2: I. Sehr lebhaft. Paul Hindemith. Hindemith: String Quartets, Vol. 3. 2015. Naxos

Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. Seven Pastorales (selections). Lou Harrison. Lou Harrison: Seven Pastorales. 1992. Music Masters Classics

Playlist 24 April

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date. Label

Apollo Chamber Players. Selections. John Luther Adams. Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing. 1997. New World Records

Smetana Quartet. String Quartet No. 1. Leoš Janáček. Janáček: String Quartet No. 1, String Quartet No. 2, Smetana Quartet. 1985. Supraphon

Trio Casals. Yarmouth Time. Kim Diehnelt. Moto finale. 2021. Navona

Lois Martin & Christopher Finckel. Waterways. Elizabeth Hoffman. Chamber Music 2002-03. 2003. Albany

Jeff Titus. Wood Dragon. Jeff Titus. Wood Dragon. 2007. Musician101 Music

Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. The Natural World. John Harbison. The Flight Into Egypt, The Natural World. 1990. New World Records

Tokyo String Quartet. A Way A Lone. Toru Takemitsu. Takemitsu Barber Britten A Way A Lone. 1993. BMG/ RCA Red Seal

The Merling Trio. Piano Trio in E minor, Op.67. Dmitri Shostakovich. Dvořák & Shostakovich Trios: Postcards in E minor. 2008. MSR Classics

Katarzyna Brochocka & Karol Kowal. Double Bass Concerto (Version for Double Bass & Piano): II. Allegro energico. Katarzyna Brochacka. Double Bass Works. 2015. CD Accord

Aleksandra Kuls. La follia per violino solo. Krzysztof Penderecki. Bach, Penderecki, Prokofiev & Ysaÿe: Works for Violin Solo. 2016. DUX

Eastman-Rochester Orchestra & Howard Hanson. Capricorn Concerto. Samuel Barber. Hanson Conducts Barber, Piston, Griffes & Others. 1992. Mercury

Vellinger String Quartet. String Quartet in E Minor Op 83. Edward Elgar. Elgar Piano Quintet String Quartet. 1994. EMI

Playlist 17 April

Artist. Piece. Composer. CD title. Date released. Label

Danish String Quartet. String Quartet (1905). Anton Webern. Prism V. 2023. ECM

Lincoln Trio. Trio sur des melodies populaires irlandaises. Frank Martin. Trios from Our Homelands. 2016. Cedille

John Bruce Yeh. Time Pieces for Clarinet and Piano. Robert Muczynski. Chicago Clarinet Classics. 2023. Cedille

William Winant. The Basketweave Elegies #8-9. Peter Garland. The Basketweave Elegies. 2023. cold blue

The Apollo Chamber Orchestra. Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing. John Luther Adams. Clouds of Forgetting, Clouds of Unknowing. 1997. Nonesuch

Danish String Quartet. String Quartet No 15 in E-flat minor VI, VII. Dmitri Shostakovich. Prism I. 2018. ECM

Harrison Birtwhistle. Trio for violin violoncello and piano. Harrison Birtwhistle. Harrison Birtwhistle Chamber Music. 2014. ECM New Series

Mika Stoltzman & Richard Stoltzman. Pavane pour une infante defunte. Maurice Ravel. Palimpsest. 2019. Avie

Nina Katova. Suite per violoncello solo. Gaspar Cassado. Solo Cello. 2023. Delos

Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. Remembering the Child: I. Per Nørgård. In Between – Remembering the Child. 1991. dacapo

Danish String Quartet. Quartetto Breve. Per Nørgård. Thomas Ades, Per Nørgård, Hans Abrahamsen. 2016. ECM

James Umble & Cleveland Duo. Sky Signs. Monica Houghton. Monica Houghton: Of Time & Place. 2018. Navona

Annelle Gregory & Alexander Sinchuk. Romance in A minor, Romance It Was in April. Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff Complete Works and Transcriptions for Violin & Piano. 2017. Bridge Records

Danish String Quartet to Perform in Madison April 18

The world renowned Danish String Quartet will perform here in Madison April 18 with a program of Schubert, Shostakovich, Britten, and arrangements of Danish folk songs.

The Quartet, which debuted in 2002, performs classical and 20th Century music and its own arrangements of traditional Danish folk songs. Quartet members are Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen and Frederik Øland, violins; Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola; and Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin, cello.

In addition to works by J.S. Bach and Beethoven, the group’s five Prism CDs include works by Bartok,  Shostakovich, Schnittke, Webern, and Mendelssohn.

The new release, Prism V, includes Bach’s chorale prelude Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit; Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F major; Anton Webern’s 1905 String Quartet, (inspired both by Beethoven and Schoenberg); and concludes with Contrapunctus 14 from Bach’s The Art of the Fugue.

In an interview April 13, violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen previewed the quartet’s Madison April 18 performance at Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall in Memorial Union and commented on classical music radio.

For the Madison concert the quartet will play Haydn’s Op 20 string quartet in G minor. “It’s a great piece that showcases Haydn’s creativity in an amazing way,” Sørensen said.

“And the Shostakovich 7th String quartet, it’s the shortest of his 15 quartets, about 12 or 13 minutes long,” Sørensen said. “A very compressed piece of music, but with so much power and so much impact. It really leaves the listener breathless. That’s often the case with his music. It’s fun to play. It changes you when you hear it. It’s a privilege playing his music. He has an anniversary coming up in 2025 (the 50th anniversary of his death). We are playing more of his music to prepare for that year.”

“In Madison we also will play the Schubert Quartettsatz, which is a single movement that he thought should be a string quartet, but it never got that far.

“After the intermission we’ll play a selection of Danish folks songs, our own arrangements.”

I mentioned the scarcity of 20th Century music on classical music radio in the U.S. “The twentieth century is my favorite era of music history,” Sørensen said. “There are so many fantastic composers. They should be played more often. There might be fear of this kind of music, but . . . it’s easy to convince people to listen to the music of Benjamin Britten or Shostakovich. There’s nothing to be afraid of.  Only the opposite. Even Schnittke creates an incredible reaction in the audience when we play it live.

“But twentieth Century music works not only in a live concert; I think it works on radio too. It’s a matter of getting rid of the prejudice about contemporary music. It is very strong, and there are so many wonderful composers from the 20th century that should be played much more often.”  

Madison area community members and visitors can attend a free studio class 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on April 18 in Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall in Memorial Union during which UW–Madison students will perform in front of members of the Danish String Quartet and receive feedback.