Review: Christopher Taylor Excites Celtic Crowd

By William R. Wineke Special to Channel 3000

MADISON, Wis. — They say a prophet can be without honor in his home town, but University of Wisconsin-Madison piano professor Christopher Taylor is an exception.

Taylor, associate professor of piano performance in the Music School, was the headline soloist at Friday’s Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra March concert, a concert devoted mostly to Celtic music.

He played John Field’s ?Piano Concerto No. 4 in E Flat Major,? a difficult piece that required him to interact almost continually with the orchestra. He was almost as much fun as the music, wiping his brow often with a red cloth, stomping his left foot with the music so vigorously that the audience could hear it ? as if Taylor created his own percussion accompaniment.

Field, a Dublin-born musician, wrote the Concerto somewhere between 1812 and 1815, according to music historian Norman Gilliland.

All in all, Friday’s concert was the best total effort the WCO has produced this year.

In addition to the piano concerto, the orchestra played Mendelssohn’s ?Herbrides Overture,? Granville Bantock’s ?Celtic Symphony for String Orchestra and Six Harps,? and Mozart’s ?Haffner? Symphony.

O.K., I’d never heard of Granville Bantock, either, but WCO Conductor Andrew Sewell says he had a wonderful reputation among composers and his symphony called for no fewer than six harps ?because that’s the minimum number he felt were necessary.? It is a short symphony with five continuous movements and it achieves the twin values of being both interesting and pleasant to listen to.