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Choices for the second weekend in April

City Hall as icon of San Francisco's diversity
City Hall as icon of San Francisco's diversity
by Lynn Wilcox

Next month will continue to be one of making hard choices for serious listeners. Furthermore, as was the case for the first weekend, each of the events in the second weekend will be given only a single performance in San Francisco. It therefore seems appropriate to lay out the options for readers who like to finalize their concert-going plans far enough in advance to work out how they will be spending the rest of their weekend time. Here is a chronological account of what the options are:

This particular weekend will begin at lunchtime, when cellist Rebecca Roudman will return to the Cadillac Hotel with pianist Noel Benkman to give another classical music recital in the Concerts at the Cadillac series, which is primarily devoted to jazz. She will be performing one of Claude Debussy’s last compositions, his sonata for cello and piano. The playful pizzicato work and eccentric rhythms of the middle Sérénade movement suggest that Debussy was no stranger to the emergence of jazz in the Parisian club scene, but the entire sonata is firmly grounded in his own unique stylizations. The Debussy sonata will be followed by Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 69 sonata in A major, a major example of how Beethoven was taking the conventions of the “classical style” and refashioning them for his own expressive purposes.

Concerts at the Cadillac performances take place in the lobby of the Cadillac Hotel (380 Eddy Street at the corner of Leavenworth Street). This particular concert will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11, and last about an hour. With the partial support of the North of Market/Tenderloin Community Benefit District, this concert is offered free of charge by the hotel as a gift to the people of the Tenderloin. However, all music lovers are welcome to this venue that calls itself “The House of Welcome Since 1907.”

In the evening the Jarring Sounds duo of mezzo Danielle Reutter-Harrah and plucked-strings virtuoso Adam Cockerham will be the next artists to perform in the Tangents Guitar Series, whose focus is on contemporary repertoire. The title of their program is Allusions, and it provides a study in how new works often draw upon past influences. This will probably be most evident in Letters from Composers by Dominick Argento. As the title suggests, Argento has written vocal settings of letters by composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, and Debussy (for those who caught his cello sonata at lunchtime). Each of these settings references the compositional styles of the composer whose words are being sung. The program will also present the first performance in San Francisco of a new work by composer Renaud Côté-Giguère, which was inspired by pieces already in the Jarring Sounds repertoire.

This recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 11, in the Chapel of the Unitarian Universality Church of San Francisco (1187 Franklin Street, at the southwest corner of Geary Boulevard). Admission will be $15, and tickets are only available at the door at this time. Further information is available on the event page for this concert on the Tangents Web site.

A recital of more traditional music will begin half an hour later on the other side of town in the Sunset. This will be a program of French and Italian arias and duets sung by soprano Antonia Denavit and mezzo Jamie McDonald. Their accompanist will be pianist Kerrilyn Renshaw. The program is entitled Belle Nuit (beautiful night), the opening words of the ravishing duet from Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann. Other famous duets will include the “letter” duet (“Sull’ aria”) from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (K. 492) and “Ah guarda sorella”) from his K. 588 Cosi fan tutte (thus do all women), as well as the “flower” duet from Léo Delibes’ Lakmé. In addition to the solos by both vocalists, Renshaw will give her own solo performance of the “Turkish” Rondo movement from Mozart’s K. 331 piano sonata in A major.

This recital will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11. The venue will be the Theatre Lycée Français de San Francisco (1201 Ortega Street at the southwest corner of 19th Avenue). General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for students. Tickets may be purchased in advance through a Brown Paper Tickets event page.

Regular readers may recall that, at the end of this past January, I announced the groups that would be performing at this year’s Switchboard Music Festival. At that time the full schedule for this eight-hour marathon had not yet been announced. That schedule has now been announced, running from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and is as follows:

  • 2:00 Gamelan X contemporary beleganjur gamelan ensemble
  • 2:45 Splinter Reeds the Bay Area’s first reed quintet
  • 3:20 The Operators a supergroup of local new music aficionados
  • 4:05 Makeunder seven-person experimental indie band
  • 4:50 Jordan Glenn & Michael Coleman percussion & keyboard duo
  • 5:15 Matthew Welch's Blarvuster led by Highland bagpipe virtuoso Matthew Welch
  • 5:55 Kate Campbell performs Julia Wolfe’s My Lips From Speaking
  • 6:20 Odessa Chen + The Invisible Stories Ensemble perform orchestrated versions of Chen’s original songs
  • 6:45 Grex mighty, twisted song-based experimental rock.
  • 7:25 Mobius Trio three guitars performing original commissions
  • 7:50 Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Orchestra performs Anna Clyne's Within Her Arms
  • 8:15 Dublin combines the live elements of an MC and the range of a vaudeville performer
  • 9:00 Kronos Quartet performs 2 world premieres

As was the case last year, the Switchboard Music Festival will take place at the Brava Theater, whose acoustics are particularly conducive for the unorthodox spirit of the event. The address is 2781 24th Street, between York and Hampshire. The Festival begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, and will continue (non-stop) until 10 p.m. Tickets are $25 with a $20 rate for students. It is also possible to purchase tickets in advance for $15 from a Vendini event page on the Festival Web site.

For those who like their concert offerings to be a little more traditional, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili will be making her San Francisco recital debut that same evening. Buniatishvili made her San Francisco debut as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado, performing Maurice Ravel’s G major piano concerto in January of 2012, an event which I recognized as the most memorable concert of that month. She has also been closely involved with violinist Gidon Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica, which has led to some impressive recordings for ECM New Series. Particularly notable in this regard was her performance of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Opus 50 piano trio in A minor, which she performed with Kremer and cellist Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė.

Buniatishvili’s recital debut will take place almost immediately after she makes her Carnegie Hall debut. She has prepared a program around two of the major piano sonatas of the nineteenth century, each coupled with a composition from the early twentieth century. Her program will begin with Franz Liszt’s only sonata in B minor, which will be followed by a solo piano version of Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse.” For the second half she will perform Frédéric Chopin’s Opus 35 sonata in B-flat minor (the second, best known for its “funeral march” third movement followed by a lightning-fast concluding Presto movement). This will be followed by Igor Stravinsky’s arrangement of music originally composed for the ballet “Petrushka.”

The recital will be presented as part of the 2014 season of Chamber Music San Francisco (CMSF). It will take place at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre, located at 609 Sutter Street, just off Union Square at the southwest corner of Sutter Street and Mason Street. Ticket for both this recital and a miniseries of the four remaining CMSF concerts are available. Both may be purchased online through the Tickets Web page on the CMSF Web site. Tickets may also be ordered by phone at 415-392-4400.

For those who prefer their music from an earlier century, the final San Francisco concert in the seventh season of Voices of Music of music will be taking place at the same time. The featured work will be Alessandro Scarlatti’s setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah with Kirsten Blaise as soprano soloist. The program will also include music by George Frideric Handel and Arcangelo Corelli. Participating instrumentalists will be violinists Elizabeth Blumenstock, Kati Kyme, Maxine Nemerovski, and Gabrielle Wunsch, violist Lisa Grodin, and cellist Shirley Hunt, with a continuo of Farley Pearce on violone, David Tayler on archlute, and Hanneke van Proosdij on organ.

This concert will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. The performance will take place at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, near the corner of Franklin Street). Tickets are $40 for general admission and $35 for seniors, students, and members of early music societies SFEMS, EMA, and ARS. In addition, $5 rush tickets for student are sold at the door, subject to availability, beginning at 7:15 p.m. and they may be purchased online from an event page accessible through the Voices of Music Web site. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-260-4687.

Finally, Sunday will offer two equally interesting opportunities for chamber music taking place at exactly the same time. San Francisco Performances (SFP) will be presenting the San Francisco recital debut of violinist Stefan Jackiw. Those who follow the activities of Michael Tilson Thomas beyond his place on the podium of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) may recognize Jackiw as one of the “faculty” members for the 2011 “version” of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.

Jackiw’s program will feature the San Francisco premiere of “They Turn Their Channeled Faces to the Sky,” composed by David Fulmer on a commission from Carnegie Hall. He will also perform violin sonatas by Johannes Brahms (Opus 78 in G major, the first) and Richard Strauss (Opus 18 in E-flat major). The program will open with the violin-and-piano version of Stravinsky’s Suite italienne, based on the score he had prepared for the ballet “Pulcinella.” Jackiw will be accompanied by pianist Anna Polonsky.

This recital will take place at 2 p.m. in the Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street, just off the southeast corner of Franklin Street) on Sunday, April 13. Ticket prices are $65, $55, and $38. Tickets may be purchased through the event page on the SFP Web site. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 415-398-6449.

That same afternoon the SFS musicians will be giving their next chamber music recital in Davies Symphony Hall. As usual, they have prepared a program diverse in both instrumentation and content. Members of the wind section will participate in a performance of Mozart’s K. 452 quintet in E-flat major for piano and winds, while there will be two different groups of strings for performances of Leoš Janáček’s first string quartet, based Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Kreutzer Sonata and Brahms’ Opus 111 quintet in G major. The program will also include Dmitri Shostakovich’s second piano trio (Opus 67 in E minor), one of his more harrowing accounts of conditions during the Second World War.

This concert will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 13. All tickets are $36 and may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the San Francisco Symphony Web site. Tickets may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000.

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