The first concert to be offered by the San Francisco Early Music Society (SFEMS) in 2017 will feature House of Time, a quartet of leading performers on period instruments. These musicians are, left to right in the below photograph, Gonzalo X. Ruiz (oboe and recorder), Tatiana Daubek (violin), Beiliang Zhu (cello and gamba), and Avi Stein (harpsichord and organ).
Photograph by Tatiana Daubek
The title of the program that they will present next month is Imaginary Theater: Instrumental music by Handel, Rameau and Bach. This will combine music written for the stage with other works that have dramatic effects of their own.
The “spinal cord” of the program will be George Frideric Handel’s HWV 8 opera seria Il pastor fido (the faithful shepherd). It will begin with the overture for the opera, which, like many of Handel’s overtures, consists of multiple movements. There will also be two suites of dance music extracted from the opera. In addition, there will also be a suite from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “heroic pastoral,” Zaïs, consisting of the overture, followed by dances extracted from the score.
Johann Sebastian Bach is included on the program, because, while he never wrote for the stage, there is no shortage of dramatic qualities in his music. Thus the BWV 1008 solo cello suite in D minor draws upon many of the same dance forms encountered in the suites by Handel and Rameau, while inviting the cellist to achieve expressiveness by seeking out his/her own dramatic interpretations. Similarly, the three movements of BWV 564, a toccata, an adagio, and a fugue, are so rich with their own dramatic qualities that Ferruccio Busoni was able to “out-Liszt” Franz Liszt, reworking all three movements into intensely dramatic (if also a bit hypertrophied) displays of virtuosity.
The San Francisco performance of this program will begin at 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 22. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. General admission is $40 with a $36 rate for seniors and $34 for SFEMS members. A single Web page has been created for online purchases of single tickets for all six concerts in the season. In addition, subscriptions are still available for a selection of three concerts during the remainder of the season. This three-concert option costs $108 with a $96 rate for SFEMS members. A separate Web page has been created for handling such subscriptions.