Wineke: Zukerman, Forsyth bring Valentine’s Day affection to Madison Symphony Orchestra

Violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth

MADISON, Wis. — Violinist Pinchas Zukerman and cellist Amanda Forsyth first thrilled Madison Symphony Orchestra audiences with a performance of Brahm’s “Double Concerto” in 2001.

Zukerman, 71, and Forsyth, 53, have since married. They returned to the Madison stage over the weekend to celebrate Valentine’s Day together by playing the same concerto and receiving pretty much the same enthusiastic reception.

Age and experience are sort of relative when it comes to musicians and their instruments. Zukerman’s violin was built in 1742 and Forsyth’s cello was built in 1699. Zukerman has been playing the violin since he was four. Forsyth started playing the cello at age three.

You can learn a lot of trivia from Wikipedia.

The two played again in Madison in 2010, and Zukerman also played here in 1974 and 2007. You can also learn a lot from J. Michael Allsen’s program notes.

At any rate, the artists are long-time Madison friends, and they performed with their accustomed grace and excellence, deviating from their usual style by sharing a Valentine hug and kiss.

Also on the weekend program is Hector Berlioz’s “Overture Le Corsair,” nine minutes of rousing music, and Aaron Copeland’s Third Symphony, which was first played in 1946.

The symphony, especially in its fourth movement, which encompasses parts of the “Fanfare for the Common Man,” is familiar to many, but it is the third movement, which features strings, woodwinds and harp that make the piece worthy of the price of admission.

MSO Music Director John DeMain conducted the orchestra just a week after the death of his wife, Barbara. The length of the standing ovation at concert’s end was no doubt a tribute to the affection the public has for him and his family.