Next month San Francisco Performances (SFP) will launch its Great Artists and Ensembles Series for its 40th anniversary season. The idea is to assemble soloists and ensembles that do not usually join together for a performance. The series will consist of four concerts with a repertoire that will serve up music from the Middle Ages, the First Viennese School (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven), and the “patriarch” of the Second Viennese School, Arnold Schoenberg. All performances will take place at Herbst Theatre, whose entrance is the main entrance to the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, located on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. The specific dates and their related performers are as follows:
Wednesday, December 4, 7:30 p.m.: Soprano Dawn Upshaw will perform with the Brentano String Quartet, whose members are violinists Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violist Misha Amory, and cellist Nina Lee. This is the program that will feature Schoenberg, devoting the second half to his Opus 10 (second) string quartet in F-sharp minor. This quartet is distinguished by the fact that the last two of its four movements require a soprano singing settings of two poems by Stefan George. (Attentive readers probably know that this quartet will be performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble this coming Monday; and, yes, this is music that deserves listening opportunities twice in a single season!) Upshaw will also join Brentano for a performance of “Il tramonto,” Ottorino Respighi’s setting of the text of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “The Sunset,” translated into Italian by Roberto Ascoli. Brentano will begin the program with a First Viennese School selection, Mozart’s K. 464 quartet in A major.
Sunday, January 26, 5 p.m.: Having made her San Francisco debut this past December, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja will return to Herbst to give a duo recital with cellist Jay Campbell. The program will span a millennium, reaching all the way back to the eleventh century for example of early polyphony taken from the Winchester Troper. At the other extreme they will perform selections from Jörg Widmann’s collection of 24 duos for violin and cello, composed in 2008. Between these extremes, they will play two of the major duo compositions from the twentieth century, Maurice Ravel’s sonata and Zoltán Kodály’s Opus 7 duo. Other composers included on the program will be Guillaume de Machaut, Orlando Gibbons, György Ligeti, and Iannis Xenakis.
Saturday, February 8, 7:30 p.m.: Violinist Isabelle Faust, cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, and pianist Alexander Melnikov have all established themselves as soloists; but they have also worked together on trio projects in the past. Those who follow recording releases may recall their “trilogy project” with harmonia mundi resulting in three CD, each of which coupled one of Robert Schumann’s piano trios with one of his concertos. (He composed solo concertos for violin, cello, and piano, respectively.) In the year of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday, Faust, Queyras, and Melnikov will present a full evening of his piano trio music. This will include both of the Opus 70 trios (in D major and E-flat major, respectively), the Opus 44 set of variations on an original theme (also in E-flat major), and the WoO 38 trio (again in E-flat major).
Friday, March 27, 7:30 p.m.: Spanish pianist Javier Perianes, who has performed with both the San Francisco Symphony and in recital for SFP, will return for a duo recital with violist Tabea Zimmermann, who will be making her San Francisco debut. The program will draw upon music from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This will include the viola version of the second (in the key of E-flat major) of Johannes Brahms’ Opus 120 sonatas, originally composed for clarinet and piano, and Franz Schubert’s D. 821 “Arpeggione” sonata. From the twentieth century they will perform Astor Piazzolla’s “Le Grand Tango,” originally written for cello and piano and dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. The program will also include arrangements of music by Manuel de Falla, Isaac Albéniz, and Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Subscriptions are now on sale for $260 for premium seating, $200, and $160. Subscriptions may be purchased online in advance through a City Box Office event page, which includes information about the locations associated with each of the price levels. 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 also be sold by City Box Office. They may be purchased through the hyperlinks attached to each of the above dates.