When I write about the pianist William Wellborn, the subject usually has something to do with Franz Liszt, whether it was the bicentennial Birthday Gala he organized in Liszt’s honor on October 23, 2011, his own Liszt performances, or the annual Young Pianists Play Liszt recital he presents at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in conjunction with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Liszt Society. For his next Noontime Concerts™ recital at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral, however, Wellborn will be the final performer in the month-long French Music Festival; so Liszt will be pretty much off the books. Because Wellborn has changed his program from the one printed on the Winter Concert Calendar, I wanted to spread the word about what he will be playing.
Once again Wellborn will be celebrating a bicentennial, this time of the birth of Liszt’s close friend and contemporary, Charles-Valentin Alkan, on November 13, 1813. Having just provided some background about Alkan in conjunction with the recital that José Raúl López will be giving in the Old First Concerts series on Sunday, I am happy to report that Wellborn’s recital will offer another aspect of Alkan’s creative efforts. He will perform seven of the 49 short pieces that Alkan collected as his Opus 63 and published in 1861 under the title Esquisses (sketches). Alkan took a polyglot approach to the titles of these pieces. Wellborn’s selections will be as follows:
- Liedchen (little song)
- Rigaudon (named for the Provençal dance form)
- Innocenzia (innocence)
- Morituri Te Salutant (the salute of the gladiators about to die)
- Les diablotins (the little devils)
- Le premier billet doux (the first love letter)
- Scherzetto (little scherzo)
1861 happens to be the year before the birth of Claude Debussy. Whether or not he intended to pursue this connection, Wellborn will begin his program with the three compositions in Debussy’s first book of Images, published in 1905. He will then conclude the program with a piece that Maurice Ravel composed in the same year, his three-movement sonatine.
Noontime Concerts™ events take place in Old St. Mary’s Cathedral at 660 California Street (at the northeast corner of Grant Avenue) every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. Wellborn’s recital will be held this Tuesday, January 29. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is requested. Further information may be found at the Noontime Concerts™ home page, from which donations may be made online.