For this coming season, the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Shenson Chamber Series will focus entirely on string quartets. However, one of those ensembles will appear with a “guest artist.” Taken as a whole, the season promises to be a simulating combination of familiar selections from the traditional repertoire and several distinctive departures from “the usual suspects.” Three of the quartet groups will be returning to SFP, and one will be making a debut.
All four concerts in the series will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Herbst Theatre. The entrance to Herbst is the the main entrance to the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, located on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. The venue is excellent for public transportation, since that corner has Muni bus stops for both north-south and east-west travel. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:
Friday, October 13: The guest artist of the season will be cellist Joshua Roman, who will be performing with the JACK Quartet, consisting of violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell. The five of them will play a quintet written specifically for them by Jefferson Friedman. They will also join forces to perform Roman’s composition “Tornado,” which will be receiving its world premiere this coming Monday at the Music Academy of the West. The program will also include John Zorn’s “Ouroboros,” Amy Williams’ “Richer Textures,” and Ari Streisfeld’s arrangements of three five-part madrigals by Carol Gesualdo.
Monday, February 19: This will be the SFP debut performance by the Danish String Quartet. Members are violinists Asbjørn Nørgaard and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen, violist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin and cellist Frederik Øland. They will frame their program with Béla Bartók’s first quartet (Opus 7 in A minor) and the first of Ludwig van Beethoven’s three Opus 59 (“Razumovsky”) quartets, written in the key of F major. However, to establish their identity, the group will depart from the usual repertoire by playing selections of folk music from the Nordic countries between these two more familiar offerings.
Friday, March 9: Here in San Francisco the Ébène Quartet, consisting of violinists Pierre Colombet and Gabriel Le Magadure, violist Adrien Boisseau, and cellist Raphaël Merlin, holds the unique distinction of having performed in the SFP Jazz Series, as well as the Chamber series. Regrettably, there will not be a Jazz Series in the 2017–2018 season; so Ébène will situate itself firmly in the traditions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. That will include Beethoven, concluding the program with the second of his Opus 59 quartets. At the other end of the concert, the program will begin with Beethoven’s best known teacher, Joseph Haydn. The selection will be Hoboken III/76, the second of the six quartets published as Opus 76 and written for József Erdődy. This quartet has two nicknames, the more familiar being “Fifths” but also known as “The Donkey.” These two major works from the First Viennese School will be separated by Gabriel Fauré’s Opus 121 quartet in E minor, completed within months of his death of November 4, 1924 and very much a reflection of the nineteenth-century traditions of his past.
Wednesday, April 18: The Series will conclude with the return of the Takás Quartet. Founding members Károly Schranz (second violin) and András Fejér (cello) still play with the group. The more recent members are Edward Dusinberre (first violin) and Geraldine Walther (viola). All founding members were students at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. The group’s Hungarian roots will be honored with the middle selection on the program, Ernő Dohnányi’s Opus 15 (second) quartet in D-flat major. The opening work will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 387 quartet in G major, and the program will conclude with Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 80 quartet in F minor.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $250 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $205 for the Side Boxes, the center rear of the Dress Circle, and the remainder of the Orchestra, and $140 for the remainder of the Dress Circle and the Balcony. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page. Orders may also be placed by calling the SFP subscriber hotline at 415-677-0325, which is open for receiving calls between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Single tickets will go on sale on July 31.