The title of this month’s program in the 2016–2017 season of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (LCCE) will be Brahms Through the Looking Glass. This will involve the latest effort involving a “call and response” approach to programming, in which one or more contemporary composers are invited to create a “reflection” on some well-known work from the past. The source of reflection in this case will be Johannes Brahms’ Opus 8 piano trio in B major; and two composers will contribute their respective “responses” to this “call.” The title of the program comes from that fact that one of those composers, Jennifer Jolley, describes her piece as “a mashup involving Johannes Brahms’s B Major Trio and Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass.” She has also added E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr to her mix by titling her piece “The Lives and Opinions of Literary Cats.” The other composer, Kenneth Lim, created what he called “a kind of prelude, a piece that would set the stage and lead in to the main event.” In a prankish spirit he has decided to give his composition the enharmonic title “Trio in C-flat.”
Opus 8 makes for an interesting choice, since it is actually a product of Brahms’ self-reflection. As can be seen from the opus number, it is a youthful work that Brahms composed in his early twenties in 1854. However, in 1889, about midway through his sixth decade, Brahms gave the score a thorough revision (much of which involved abbreviation and distillation); and that is the version that is almost always performed today. Thus, both Brahms’ own reflection on his own music and the reflections by Jolley and Lim will constitute the program. All three works will be played by the same ensemble, the trio of Eric Zivian (piano), Anna Presler (violin), and Tanya Tomkins (cello).
The San Francisco performance of Brahms Through the Looking Glass will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. (Note that this is not the usual Monday evening scheduling.) The venue will be the Recital Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. Tickets will be sold at the door for $35 for general admission and $18 for those under the age of 35. However, if tickets are purchased in advance from a Vendini event page, general admission will be $30 with a $15 charge for those under the age of 35.