Thursday, March 29, 2018

Choices for April 15, 2018

This site has already observed that the first weekend of next month will be a busy month, with a need for making hard choices that will begin on Friday evening and continue through late Sunday afternoon. On the following weekend, the choices will need to be made on Sunday; and those game enough to do so will need to jump from one side of town to the other, if they wish to attend more than a single event. Since April 15 is a Sunday, it will not be the usual deadline for filing tax returns. This may be relief for some, particularly with the deadline being pushed to April 17 to accommodate the celebration of Emancipation Day in the nation’s capital. Readers should thus have plenty of time to ponder the following choices:

3 p.m., McKenna Theatre: The next concert in the 2017–2018 season of the Morrison Artists Series, presented by the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University (SFSU), will be the San Francisco debut performance by the Quatuor Van Kuijk. They will complement their own debut appearance with the Bay Area premiere of Akira Nishimura’s second string quartet, written in 1992 and given the title “Pulse of the Lights” by the composer. The program will begin by honoring the centennial of the death of Claude Debussy by performing his only string quartet, his Opus 10 in G minor. The second half of the program will focus on the third of Ludwig van Beethoven’s six Opus 18 (“early”) quartets.

The McKenna Theatre is in the Creative Arts Building at SFSU, a short walk from the SFSU Muni stop at the corner of 19th Avenue and Holloway Avenue. Tickets are free but advance registration is highly desirable. Reservations may be made through the event page for this concert. As usual, there will be a pre-concert talk at 2 p.m., which will be given by Richard Festinger, Artistic Director of the Morrison Artists Series. Also as usual, the trio will give a collective Master Class at noon on Monday, April 16. This two-hour session will take place in Knuth Hall, also in the Creative Arts Building, and will be open to the general public at no charge and with no requirements for tickets.

4 p.m., Noe Valley Ministry: The second of the three concerts to be performed in San Francisco as part of the tenth anniversary of Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) is entitled Once/Memory/Night: Paul Celan. The E4TT musicians, soprano Nanette McGuinness and instrumentalists Dale Tsang on piano and Anne Lerner-Wright on cello, will be joined by Laura Reynolds on cor anglais and Ilana Blumberg Thomas in violin. There will be world premiere performances of three E4TT commissions, two of which are settings of Celan’s poetry. Those two will be David Garner’s “Die Eichne Tür” and “Nachtlang” by Jared Redmond. The remaining premiere will be Stephen Eddins’ “A Song for the End of the World,” a setting of poetry by Celan’s contemporary, Czesław Miłosz. Both Garner and Eddins will provide introductory remarks about their respective works. The program will also include “Mémoire de l’ombre” by Aleksandra Kaca, one of the composer’s contributing to E4TT’s 56x54 Call for Scores series. The remaining work on the program will be Libby Larsen’s “4 ½.”

The Noe Valley Ministry at 1021 Sanchez Street. Tickets will be $30 for general admission, $15 for seniors, and $5 for students. Tickets at all price levels are currently available for sale online through an Eventbrite event page.

7:30 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall: This will be the first of two solo recitals to be given by pianist András Schiff on the final stage of his North American tour. Both concerts will be presented jointly by San Francisco Performances and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS), the latter as part of the Great Performers Series. Unless I am mistaken, this concert will provide the first opportunity here in San Francisco to listen to Schiff’s interpretations of the music of Johannes Brahms. He will play two of that composer’s collections of short pieces, the eight in Opus 76 and the seven in Opus 116, which he called “fantasias.” These pieces will be flanked on either side by the other two of Hans von Bülow’s “Three Bs.” Brahms will be preceded by Beethoven’s Opus 78 sonata in F-sharp minor and followed by Johann Sebastian Bach’s BWV 811, the sixth (and last) of the so-called “English” suites, written in the key of D minor. The Beethoven sonata will be preceded by another F-sharp minor composition, Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 28 fantasia, also known as the “Sonate écossaise” (Scottish sonata).

Ticket prices will be between $15 and $99. They may be purchased online through the event page for this program on the SFS Web site, by calling 415-864-6000, or by visiting the Davies Box Office, whose entrance is on the south side of Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street. (This is also the main entrance to the hall itself.) The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Box Office will also be open two hours prior to the beginning of the concert.

This is also a good time to describe the second program that Schiff prepared. He will continue his Brahms selections with that composer’s last three collections of short pieces, the three intermezzi of Opus 117, the six pieces of Opus 118, and the four pieces of Opus 119. This time the Beethoven selection, the Opus 81a (“Les Adieux”) sonata in E-flat major, will conclude the program. The Bach selection, the BWV 869 prelude and fugue in B minor, which concludes the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier will be played between Opus 118 and Opus 119. The Opus 117 and Opus 118 sets will be separated by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 511 rondo in A minor. For the opening selection, Robert Schumann will replace Mendelssohn with a performance of his WoO 24 set of variations on an original theme usually known as the Geistervariationen (ghost variations).

This second concert will begin at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17. The performance will again take place in Davies Symphony Hall. Ticket prices will be the same and may be purchased online through a separate event page.

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