Friday, February 3, 2017

Program Announced for David Russell’s Return to the SFP Guitar Series

Guitar aficionados know by now that tomorrow evening will see the return of Pepe Romero to Herbst Theatre to give a recital co-produced by San Francisco Performances (SFP), in the 2016–2017 Guitar Series, and the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts. In addition the month will conclude with another Saturday evening recital in this jointly-organized series. The recitalist will be Scottish-born classical guitarist David Russell, performing the evening after leading the next Concert with Conversation event at the Community Music Center.

David Russell, courtesy of the Omni Foundation for the Performing Arts

As usual, Russell has prepared a recital that will include his own transcriptions and an original work composed for him. However, he will also be using the occasion (and, for that matter, his touring schedule for the season) to recognize the 150th birthday of Enrique Granados, which will be celebrated this coming July 27. Granados never composed for the guitar, so this portion of the program will probably feature Russell’s transcriptions, most likely drawing upon the extensive catalog of pieces that Granados composed for piano (and would have performed in concert).

Russell’s other transcriptions for the evening will be based on keyboard music from the Baroque period. His preference for Domenico Scarlatti will be served by performances of the K. 308 and K. 309 sonatas. These are both in the key of C major, and Scott Ross’ booklet notes for his recording of all of the Scarlatti keyboard sonatas suggested that they may have been written to be played as a pair. This is a viable conjecture, particularly since the Cantabile of the first sonata may be taken as an introduction to the Allegro of the second.

Russell will also play his transcriptions of two keyboard partitas by Johann Kuhnau, best known as the predecessor of Johann Sebastian Bach as the Cantor of the Thomasschule zu Leipzig based at the St. Thomas Church. The composition written for Russell will be Landmarks, a three-movement suite by the American guitarist and composer Matthew Dunne. The “landmarks” that Dunne selected acknowledge both Russell’s Scottish descent and his current country of residence, Spain.

Finally, the program will begin and conclude with works by two nineteenth-century Spanish guitarists. The opening selection will be a fantasia in E major by José Brocá. This will be complemented at the conclusion by a better known composer whose work was greatly influenced by Brocá, Francisco Tárrega. Russell will play three mazurkas inspired by Frédéric Chopin and will then conclude with Tárrega’s “Gran Jota.”

This recital will begin at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. The church is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Single tickets are being sold for $55 for reserved seating in the Orchestra section and $45 for general admission to the Balcony. Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page, which includes a seating plan indicating availability in both of these sections.

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