Saturday, April 22, 2017

Diverse Alternatives on the First Sunday in May

Once again the coming month will begin with a Sunday of diverse alternatives. As was observed yesterday, the afternoon will see the second performance of the Hidden Classical Jewels program prepared by the San Francisco Bach Choir, coupling Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 86 Mass setting with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 339 Vespers (“Confessore”) setting. The other offerings will both precede and follow the Classical period; and the fleet of foot may even contrive to take in two historical periods in one day (although my own feeling is that such running around does not serve serious listening very well). The other alternatives for Sunday, May 7, are as follows:

4 p.m., St. Mark’s Lutheran Church: American Bach Soloists (ABS) will conclude its 2017 subscription season with a major oratorio performance, George Frideric Handel’s HWV 47 La resurrezione (the resurrection). This was first performed on the Easter Sunday of 1708 in Rome. As is well known, the young Handel traveled to Rome to cultivate his skills as an opera composer. Unfortunately, he arrived in Rome around the time that Pope Clement XI imposed a ban on operatic performances. However, as we know from the HWV 232 setting of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus, which ABS performed in March of 2013, Handel did not allow the Papal ban to interfere with his exercising his operatic chops on sacred texts; and HWV 47 was sufficiently “operatic” that the Vatican did not take kindly to it.

One of the most significant operatic factors was the use of soloists to portray specific characters. As a result this oratorio was composed as a series of arias and duets for five vocal soloists, a significant departure from the rich choral writing encountered in more familiar Handel oratorios. Each soloist portrays a different character. At this concert soprano Nola Richardson will sing the role of Mary Magdalene, soprano Mary Wilson will sing the Angel at the tomb, mezzo Meg Bragle will make her ABS debut in the role of Mary of Clopas (Cleophas), tenor Kyle Stegall will depict John the Evangelist, and baritone Jesse Blumberg will portray Lucifer. (The Devil always gets the lowest notes.)

St. Mark’s is located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street. Premium tickets are $85, and the other prices are $64 and $33. Tickets may be purchased in advance online from a Tix event page on the ABS Web site. Discounted tickets are available for students aged 25 and under with proof of identification. The tickets may be arranged by calling the ABS Office at 415-621-7900.

8 p.m., Center for New Music (C4NM): At the other end of the historical spectrum, this will be the first concert in C4NM’s MicroFest North. The program will be a solo piano recital by Sarah Cahill honoring the 100th birthday of Lou Harrison, which will take place on May 14. Cahill will perform several movements from Harrison’s piano suite, his two cembalo sonatas, and the Summerfield Set. She will also perform “Jig” and “Range-Song,” two of his earliest pieces, as well as several unpublished and rarely performed works.

C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. General admission will be $15 with a $12 rate for C4NM members. Tickets may be purchased in advance through a Vendini Web page.

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