San Francisco Performances has a dazzling series of performers coming up, even by their own high standards of dazzlement (these are the people that brought us the Pacifica Quartet in the complete Elliott Carter quartets, twice!; both times are among my favorite concerts ever). It was kind of difficult to decide what to get, since looking at season announcements is like going to a vast and sumptuous buffet while you're starving; no matter how hungry you are, you'll wind up with too much on your plate. So I was trying to avoid overbooking/overspending. For example, usually I get the Young Masters series, but I decided my subscription was getting out of hand, so I held off on that and got the following:
The Vocal Series was for me the clear first choice, as it features Stephanie Blythe (13 October), Simon Keenlyside (27 October), Karita Mattila (6 December – St Nicholas Day!), Dawn Upshaw (28 January 2012), and Matthias Goerne (23 April – Shakespeare’s birthday!), in addition to Christopher Maltman (19 January 2012), rescheduled from last year. I hope he’s doing the Venice-themed program he was supposed to do last spring, as I was really looking forward to it. He lost his voice at the last minute and was unable to perform, and instead of staying for the proffered conversation between SFP President Ruth Felt and Maltman’s accompanist Malcolm Martineau (who’s back with him, as well as with Keenlyside, this season) I decided to head over to Davies to try for a rush ticket to the Bach B Minor Mass, only to find that the line for that was out the door and it was almost 8:00 and I figured I had better just go home through the fog and write off the evening. Actually, my last scheduled event for SFP last season, Kate Royal’s recital, was also cancelled at the last minute due to illness; shortly thereafter I received in the mail a copy of Royal’s latest CD, A Lesson in Love, as an apology gift provided by Kate Royal and EMI. Very nice touch!
The hazards of concert-going! Anyway, yeah, definitely the Vocal Series.
I also got the Chamber Series: the Brentano String Quartet (4 December) with an interesting program in which five contemporary composers (Gubaidulina, Harbison, Iyer, Adolphe, and Hartke) complete (or respond to) unfinished works (by, respectively, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Shostakovich); the Arditti Quartet (12 April 2012), playing Beethoven, Berg, Ades, and Bartok; the Ebene Quartet (8 March 2012) playing Mozart, Borodin, and Ravel; and the Alexander String Quartet (4 February 2012), in a special thirtieth anniversary concert featuring works by Debussy and a new quintet by Jake Heggie (Camille Claudel: Into the Fire), featuring Joyce DiDonato, with Heggie himself on piano.
I also ended up getting the piano series, with Marc-Andre Hamelin playing Berg, Liszt, and some of his own Etudes (2 November); Alexander Melnikov, playing the Shostakovich 24 Preludes and Fugues (12 November); Christian Zacharias, playing works by CPE Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, and Schubert (9 December); Leif Ove Andsnes, playing Chopin and Debussy (9 February 2012); and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, playing Debussy, Schumann, and Kurtag (27 March 2012).
I added in some one-off performances: Ute Lemper and the Vogler Quartet, playing classical/cabaret from 1920s Europe (31 March 2012); and an evening of Lera Auerbach’s music (14 March 2012), featuring Auerbach herself on piano, soprano Lina Tetriani, and cellist Alisa Weilerstein (just announced today as a new MacArthur Fellow; congratulation!).
Tickets and up-to-date information for these and their other offerings can be found here.