Sunday, March 26, 2017

Håkan Hardenberger will return to SFP as a Virtuosi Series Soloist

[added 4/5, 5:40 p.m.: CANCELLATION NOTICE

Due to family reasons, Håkan Hardenberger is unable to travel abroad. Sadly, that means that he has had to cancel his engagement with San Francisco Performances (SFP). Ticket holders have the options of exchanging for other tickets, receiving a refund, or making a donation to SFP. This can be arranged by calling SFP at 415-398-6449 or by sending electronic mail to]

April is the month in which three of the four concerts in the Virtuosi Series of the San Francisco Performances 2016–2017 season will take place. As was observed this past Thursday, the duo of violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien will lead off the month with their second SFP visit as a duo. They will be followed a little over a week later by virtuoso trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, who will be making his third SFP appearance. He made his SFP debut in 2005 with pianist Aleksander Madzar and returned in 2007 to give a duo recital with percussionist Colin Currie. Next month Hardenberger will be accompanied by pianist Roland Pöntinen, who made his SFP debut in 2007 accompanying clarinetist Martin Fröst.

The major work on the program will be Staffan Storm’s “Three Autumns,” which was commissioned by Musik i Syd for the 2016 Malmö Chamber Music Festival, at which Hardenberger and Pöntinen gave the world premiere performance. The work is a single-movement thirty-minute composition that imposes major technical challenges for both performers. The title refers not to the structure of the work but to its inspiration, the title of a poem by Anna Akhmatova. The poem examines three different senses of autumn; and, while the score mirrors those different senses, those impressions are seamlessly integrated into one uninterrupted movement. This recent composition will be preceded by an earlier work that is still known for its modernism, George Antheil’s four-movement sonata for trumpet, which was first performed in 1954 at Columbia University by pioneering American trumpeter Edna White Chandler.

The second half of the program will feature Pöntinen as both composer and arranger. However, the most familiar selection will be his solo performance of George Gershwin’s three solo piano preludes. His own composition is entitled “L’éléphant rose,” explicitly referring to the “pink elephants on parade” in Walt Disney’s Dumbo. In writing a trumpet part for Hardenberger, Pöntinen drew upon his interest in jazz and his appreciation of the styles of both Miles Davis and Lester Bowie, the latter having become involved in the mid-Sixties with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago and then became one of the cofounders of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. The two arrangements on the program are both based in narrative. The first of these draws upon Thomas Newman’s score for the HBO miniseries Angels in America, while the second comes from incidental music for a production of Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull written by Swedish jazz pianist Jan Lundgren.

The remainder of the second half will feature two Swedish composers and one American. Sweden will be represented by Wilhelm Stenhammar from the nineteenth century and Nils Björkander from the twentieth. The Stenhammar selection is another solo piano composition, the first (in B minor) of the three fantasies he published as his Opus 11 in 1895. Björkander’s “Idyll” is also a piano solo, one of the four short pieces in a collection entitled Skärgårdsskisser (archipelago sketches) composed in 1924. The program will conclude with a concert waltz for trumpet and piano by the American composer Virgil Thomson entitled “At the Beach,” which nostalgically recalls an earlier era of “public music.”

This recital will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11. It will take place in Herbst Theatre, located on the ground floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Tickets are being sold for $40 in the balcony, $55 for most of the Dress Circle, and $65 for premium seating. They may be purchased in advance through a City Box Office event page, which shows the Herbst floor plan and which prices apply to which sections. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 415-392-2545, as well as at the Herbst Box Office on the evening of the performance.

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