While the War Memorial was under lockdown conditions, San Francisco Symphony (SFS) launched its SFSymphony+ streaming service, which, from a personal point of view, was one of the most satisfying offerings to keep me occupied in a positive disposition. This involved several different categories of content, including a continuation of SoundBox programming that involved many imaginative approaches to media content that would not have been possible in the physical setting of the Davies rehearsal space. However, since I spent many delightful Sunday afternoons listening to chamber music performed by SFS members in Davies Symphony Hall, I was particularly glad that SFSymphony+ included a Chamber Music Series.
In that context I am happy to report that the Chamber Music at Davies Symphony Hall series will return this coming October. There will be six concerts, all taking place on Sundays beginning at 2 p.m. While the performers on each program have not yet been announced, it appears that all of the selections to be presented have been finalized. Subscriptions to the entire series are now available with a Web page created for on-line purchases. The price of a subscription is $180 for those sections of Davies Symphony Hall that are open for Chamber Music performances. Tickets may also be purchased individually, beginning on August 31, through the hyperlinks on the dates for specific concerts as described below:
October 10: The program will begin with Zoltán Kodály’s duo for violin and cello. This will be complemented at the conclusion by Dmitri Shostakovich’s Opus 57 piano quintet. Between these two selections there will be a performance of Devonté Hynes’ “Perfectly Voiceless.” Some readers may recall that the Third Coast Percussion quartet played an excerpt from this 75-minute dance composition when they visited Herbst Theatre in April of 2019.
January 16: This program will conclude with a chamber music favorite, Franz Schubert’s D. 667 “Trout” quintet, with violin, viola, and cello joined by bass and piano. Far sparer resources will be required from Frank Bridge’s “Lament,” scored for two violas. The program will begin with Jennifer Higdon’s “Wissahickon poeTrees,” presumably inspired by Philadelphia’s Wissahickon Valley Park. (Having grown up in Philadelphia, I feel obliged to share that tidbit!)
February 20: This program will begin with a trio for five instruments by David Gartner, one of the Composition teachers at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This will be followed by Bohuslav Martinů’s first piano quintet, which he composed in Paris in 1933. The remainder of the program will feature two Scandinavians, Jean Sibelius with his “Andante Festivo” and Carl Nielsen with “At the Bier of a Young Artist.”
April 3: This program will begin with another composer familiar to the Bay Area, Gabriela Lina Frank. Her contribution will be “Inca Dances,” which she scored for guitar and string quartet. To complement that opening, the program will conclude with Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, scored for string quartet by Clint Edwards. In addition, Frank’s selection will be followed by works by two other women. The first will be the Afro-American Suite by Undine Smith Moore. This will be followed by Joan Tower’s “Copperwave.”
May 29: This program will also begin with music by a woman composer, Jessie Montgomery. The selection will be “Voodoo Dolls Strum.” The program will conclude with Antonín Dvořák’s 1878 serenade for wind instruments. Between these two pieces will be the only vocal offering of the season. “Still falls the rain” is the third of a series of five canticles that Benjamin Britten composed, scored for tenor, horn, and piano.
June 26: The most familiar work on this program will be the last one: Béla Bartók’s fifth string quartet. It will begin with a duo for cello and bass that Fred Bretschger entitled simply “Fantasy Duo.” This will be followed by a piano trio in F-sharp minor by Arno Barbarjanian.