Pianist Jonathan Biss will take more of a “supporting role” in the final concert in his Schumann: Under the Influence series of recitals for San Francisco Performances (SFP). Instead the featured artists will be the members of the Elias String Quartet (violinists Sara Bitlloch and Donald Grant, violist Martin Saving, and cellist Marie Bitlloch), who will be making their San Francisco debut. The program will also include the world premiere of a composition by Palo Alto native Timo Andres commissioned by SFP in conjunction with Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam.
The Elias String Quartet will present two of Robert Schumann’s earliest chamber music works, both composed in 1842. In the first half of the program, they will perform his A minor quartet, the first of three published as Opus 41. The program will then conclude with the E-flat major piano quartet (Opus 47) with Biss as pianist. In addition Biss will join the Elias String Quartet for the Andres premiere, a piano quintet that took Schumann’s Opus 44 E-flat major piano quintet (also composed in 1842) as a point of departure. Andres described his own composition as a “thought-experiment” based on the following question:
What if, instead of writing his piece in monumental, Beethoven-like forms, Schumann had written in the mode of his piano sets (like Kreisleriana or Carnaval)—as a single, large-scale form constructed out of several simpler ones?
The result is a five-movement composition derived from a four-note “seed,” described by Andres as “stolen from some canonic passagework in his [Schumann’s] Opus 12 Fantasiestücke (No. 6, ‘Fabel’) which I stretch out into a melody and set in a prolation canon (individual voices playing that melody at different speeds).”
The Elias String Quartet will also begin the program with the performance of three of Henry Purcell’s fantasias, composed in 1680 when he was serving as “composer to the King’s violins.”
This performance will take place in Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Avenue). It will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 29. Tickets prices are $25, $38, $52, and $62. There is an event page for this concert on the SFP Web site, as well as a Web page for purchasing tickets from City Box Office. The SFP Box Office may also be reached by telephone at 415-392-2545.
In addition, Andres, who is, himself, an accomplished pianist, will offer what may serve as a “preview event.” He will be the soloist at the next SFP Salon concert. He has prepared a program that will include his own music, as well as compositions by Schumann, Thomas Adès, and Frédéric Chopin.
This more intimate event will take place in the salon room at the Hotel Rex (562 Sutter Street, between Powell Street and Mason Street). It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27, and last for about an hour, usually concluding with an opportunity for the artist to entertain questions from the audience. All tickets are $20. This concert has its own event page on the SFP Web site, as well as a Web page for purchasing tickets from City Box Office. Tickets may also be ordered by phone from the SFP Box Office at 415-392-2545.