Sunday, June 25, 2017

The San Francisco Performances 2017–2018 Virtuosi Series

The San Francisco Performances (SFP) Virtuosi Series is notable for its eclectic scope. Rather than focusing on a single genre or medium, the series brings together four outstanding performers, each with his/her own distinctive way of establishing his/her reputation. The emphasis of the four concerts in the 2017–2018 season will be on chamber music, but that involves honoring my person conviction that jazz is chamber music by other means. All of the concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Herbst Theatre. The entrance to Herbst 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:

Tuesday, November 7: Violinist Leila Josefowicz will make a welcome return to SFP. Those who try to follow her regularly know that she has also been a well-received visitor to Davies Symphony Hall for performances with the San Francisco Symphony. For this recital she will be joined by pianist John Novacek. The core of her program will consist of two twentieth-century sonatas written within half a decade of each other. The earlier of these will be the first of Sergei Prokofiev’s two sonatas for violin and piano (Opus 80 in F minor), which was completed after the end of the Second World War in 1946, although the composer began work on it in 1938. The Prokofiev sonata will be complemented by Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s 1951 sonata for solo violin. The program will conclude at the very end of the twentieth century with John Adams 1995 “Road Movies.” The opening selection will be Friedrich Hermann’s arrangement of Jean Sibelius’ Opus 44 “Valse Triste,” originally written as incidental music for Arvid Järnefelt's 1903 play Kuolema (death), whose author was the composer’s brother-in-law.

Friday, November 17: This program will offer the jazz perspective on chamber music. Regina Carter has had a long-standing relationship with SFP; and, between 1997 and 2001 she was the first SFP jazz Artist-in-Residence. She also received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2006. She honored her connection to SFP by writing “What Ruth Felt,” which she played at A Heartfelt Gala at the end of last September, a special concert to honor SFP founder and President Emeritus Ruth Felt. For her next visit she will lead a quintet in a program entitled Simply Ella. The legacy of jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald will be honored with performances of Carter’s own arrangements of iconic works performed by Fitzgerald ranging from love ballads to the mind-bending scat singing in her bebop interpretations.

Thursday, February 8: Jörg Widmann will return, once again, in his joint capacity as clarinetist and composer. He will be joined by pianist Gilles Vonsattel. Three of his compositions will be performed during the second half of the program. These will be his “Circus Dances” for solo piano, a set of five fragments (Bruchstücke, with no apparent connection to Max Bruch) for clarinet and piano, and a solo fantasia for clarinet. The other composers included on the program will be Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, and Carl Maria von Weber.

Wednesday, February 21: The final “visiting virtuoso” in the series will be flutist Emmanuel Pahud, who will be joined by pianist Alessio Bax, no stranger to the Bay Area, particularly through his involvement with Music at Menlo. The program will begin with Francis Poulenc’s sonata for flute and piano. The remainder of the program will involve Pahud taking the solo part in works originally written for other instruments. These will be Franz Schubert’s D. 821 sonata in A minor for arpeggione and piano, Schumann’s Opus 73 set of three fantasy pieces (Fantasiestücke), originally intended for clarinet and piano, and Mendelssohn’s 1838 violin sonata in F major, which was not published during the composer’s lifetime.

Subscriptions are now on sale for $240 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.

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