Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Three Occasions to Enjoy Schubert’s D. 960

Between now and the middle of next month, those who get really excited over the inventiveness that Franz Schubert summoned during his prodigiously productive final year will have three opportunities to indulge in a performance of his final piano sonata, D. 960 in B-flat major. (By way of disclaimer, I should make it clear that I am definitely one of “those who get really excited!”) Curiously, this will involve only two different pianists; and the performances will be taking place in only two different venues. However, for the sake of reader convenience, information about these events will be given in chronological order:

Friday, August 18, 8 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: Pianist Audrey Vardanega will return as a recitalist in the Old First Concerts series:

Audrey Vardanega, courtesy of Old First Concerts

She has prepared an all-Schubert program, which is sure to please those who admire this composer. Unfortunately, the event page for this concert is a bit ambiguous about what will be performed in addition to D. 960. The “headline” has her playing the D. 899 set of four impromptus, first published at the very beginning of Schubert’s final year. However, further down the page one reads that the opening selection on the program will be the D. 940 fantasia in F minor for two pianists at one keyboard with Robert Schwartz appearing as guest artist to provide the second pair of hands. The “best of all possible worlds” would be one in which both D. 899 and D. 940 were played in the first half of the program; but this most likely would be as much of a strain on Vardanega’s capacity for endurance as it would be for even the most eager listener.

The Old First Presbyterian Church is located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue. If purchased in advance online from an Old First Concerts event page, general admission will be $23 with a discounted rate of $18 for seniors aged 65 or older. Tickets for full-time students showing valid identification will be $5; and children aged twelve and under will still be admitted for free. There is also a discount available for those parking at the Old First Parking Garage at 1725 Sacramento Street, just up the street from the church.

Tuesday, August 22, 12:30 p.m., Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral: Only a few days later, D. 960 will be the only work on the program of that week’s Noontime Concerts recital. The pianist will be Thomas Schultz, and the performance will serve as a “preview” of the concert he is scheduled to give for Old First Concerts the following month:

Thomas Schultz, from his Facebook site

The address of Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral is 660 California Street, located in Chinatown on the northeast corner of Grant Street. These concerts require neither tickets nor reservations. However, donations are both accepted and encouraged with a suggested amount of $5.

Sunday, September 17, 4 p.m., Old First Presbyterian Church: This will be the full recital “previewed” at Noontime Concerts. While Vardanega has chosen to conclude her program with D. 960, Schultz will go against the grain of most piano recitalists and begin with this almost epic offering. He will then couple the sonata with the D. 760 fantasia in C major, usually called the “Wanderer” fantasia because of its reference to the D. 493 song of that name. Between these two selections he will play a set of variations composed by his Korean colleague Hyo-shin Na. Details about Old First are as above, and an event page has already been created for this recital.

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