The four pianists that will be giving recitals in the Piano Series as part of the 2017–2018 season of San Francisco Performances (SFP) will all be making return visits. Nevertheless, the four of them encompass a wide spectrum of tastes and an equally broad approach to repertoire. Thus, those who attend the entire series can expect to encounter music as early as the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and as recent as a piece that will be receiving its world premiere.
As in the past, all four of these recitals will take place in Herbst Theatre, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The entrance to Herbst is on the ground floor of the Veterans Building, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:
Thursday, January 18: Stephen Hough will return with a program that focuses on the “basics” of Claude Debussy, Robert Schumann, and Ludwig van Beethoven, presented in that reverse chronological order. The core of his Debussy offering will be the two books of three compositions each collected under the title Images. They will be framed by two of the composer’s perspectives on moonlight, beginning with the “Clair de lune” movement from the Suite bergamasque and concluding with “La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune” (the terrace of moonlit audiences) from the second book of preludes. The Schumann selection will be the Opus 17 fantasia in C major; and the program will conclude with Beethoven’s Opus 57 (“Appassionata”) sonata in F minor.
Friday, March 2: Pierre-Laurent Aimard will present two major undertakings in his recital. In the first half he will play the eleven pieces that György Ligeti collected under the title Musica ricercata (researched music). The second half will be devoted to Beethoven’s Opus 106 (“Hammerklavier”) sonata in B-flat major. The program will begin with “Revelation,” composed by the Russian mystic and inventor Nikolai Obukhov.
Tuesday, March 27: Lera Auerbach will return with another imaginatively-conceived program. This one will have a “now-and-then” theme, beginning with the world premiere of a suite created especially for SFP entitled 21st Century Pictures and inspired by the paintings of Ballets Russes dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. This may be taken as a contemporary “response” to Modest Mussorgsky, whose suite Pictures at an Exhibition will constitute the second half of the program.
Thursday, April 19: Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz has prepared a program that will advance through several different stages of musical styles. He will begin with Mozart’s K. 310 sonata in A minor, preceded by the K. 511 rondo, also in A minor. This will be followed by Beethoven’s Opus 101 sonata in the key of A major. The program will then progress to Schumann’s Opus 26, the five-movement “tone poem” (of sorts) entitled Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival scenes from Vienna). He will then conclude with selections of music by Frédéric Chopin, the Opus 24 set of four mazurkas preceded by the Opus 52 (fourth) ballade in F minor.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $260 for premium seating in the Orchestra and the front and center of the Dress Circle, $200 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.