It was recently announced that San Francisco Performances (SFP) will launch its 2016–2017 Guitar Series next month. This will be followed, only a few days later, by the first of the four recitals in the 2016–2017 Vocal Series for which both single tickets and full subscriptions are currently on sale. This season the recitals will cover each of the four major vocal ranges; and, whether by design or coincidence, they have been ordered from the lowest register to the highest. All of the concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Herbst Theatre, located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. The specific dates and their related vocalists are as follows:
Tuesday, December 13: Baritone Christian Gerhaher will return to give his second SFP recital, performing again with pianist Gerold Huber (also appearing for the second time in an SFP event). Gerhaher made his SFP debut in September of 2014 with a program consisting entirely of settings of poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. A generous serving of songs by Franz Schubert were complemented by the more recent efforts of Wolfgang Rihm.
This time the program will consist entirely of music by Gustav Mahler. The program will be framed by two of his last solo vocal compositions, originally written for low voice and orchestra. Performed only with piano accompaniment, these will be “Der Einsame im Herbst” (the solitary one in Autumn) and “Der Abschied” (the farewell) from Das Lied von der Erde (the song of the earth). Gerhaher will also sing the Sieben Lieder aus letzter Zeit (seven songs of latter days), settings for voice and piano that Mahler published in 1905. These are his own arrangements of the five orchestral songs known as the Rückert-Lieder and two of his settings of texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (the youth’s magic horn), also originally set for voice and orchestra, “Revelge” (reveille) and “Der Tambourg’sell” (the drummer boy). There will also be an earlier Wunderhorn setting, “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen” (where the fair trumpets sound).
Friday, March 17: Tenor Mark Padmore will perform with pianist Jonathan Biss in a program that will also be the third concert in Biss’ four-part series entitled Late Style. The program will offer two major compositions, both of which were written during the final months in the life of Franz Schubert. Padmore’s contribution will be the D. 957 collection of fourteen songs published as a cycle under the title Schwanengesang (swan-song). This title was given by publisher Tobias Haslinger, a publication that appeared a few month’s after Schubert’s death. Many have observed that Haslinger’s choice of metaphor was a poor one, since Schubert had been singing (in one way or another) all his life! In addition Biss will give a performance of the D. 959 sonata in A major.
Thursday, March 23: Mezzo Sarah Connolly will be accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton. Her program will also include the voice-and-piano settings of Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder as part of an “international” program arranged in chronological order. The Mahler selection will be preceded by Robert Schumann’s Opus 42 cycle, Frauenliebe und -leben (a woman’s love and life). Mahler will provide the transition into the twentieth century, which will be represented by three distinctively different composers. Connolly will sing Francis Poulenc’s collection entitled Banalités, selections from Aaron Copland’s settings of poems by Emily Dickinson, and Richard Rodney Bennett’s A History of the Thé Dansant, settings of poems by his sister M. R. Peacocke published in the volume Selves and inspired by photographs of their parents on holiday.
Wednesday, May 17: Soprano Carolyn Sampson will conclude the series. She has prepared a program entitled Fleurs, an “anthology” of selections of art song all based on floral themes. Her repertoire will range from the seventeenth century (Henry Purcell) to several major twentieth-century composers. Middleton will return to serve as her accompanist.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $240 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $200 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $140 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page. Orders may also be placed by calling the SFP subscriber hotline at 415-677-0325. Corresponding prices for single tickets are $65, $55, and $40. The hyperlinks on the dates given above all lead to City Box Office event pages for the purchase of single tickets.