Duly noted: Fall Arts classical music concerts

  • Tuesday August 30, 2022
Share this Post:
clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer; pianist Yuja Wang (photo: Kirk Edwards); <br>pianist Bertrand Chamayou (photo: Marco Borggreve)
clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer; pianist Yuja Wang (photo: Kirk Edwards);
pianist Bertrand Chamayou (photo: Marco Borggreve)

There's a celebratory quality to the classical music offerings this fall, in no small part out of gratitude that live performances can go on at all. The home team has seldom looked so good, and many of the visitors, too, are as easy on the ear as on the eye.

San Francisco Opera @ War Memorial Opera House

The world premiere of John Adams' "Antony and Cleopatra" opens SF Opera's centennial season, a passage in time that certainly warrants celebration. So, it seems curious that the company would commission a work on the very story that nearly sank Cleopatra's barge when the Met opened its new house in 1966 with Samuel Barber's version, which has never gotten traction.

The Berkeley-based Adams is as close as you get to a house composer these days, with four of his operas having been performed here, the last two of them world premieres. America's premier music critic called Adams' "Doctor Atomic" (2005) a masterpiece before the curtain went up. Hm. Then again, "Girls of the Golden West," from 2017, is curiously missing from the new CD box set of Adams' Collected Works. The stakes are high for the Girl of the Golden Nile.

The cast of Adams regulars, headed by the always superb Gerald Finley, will be conducted not by Adams, who often does the honors, but by Music Director Eun Sun Kim. It augurs to be fall's hot ticket.

There's nothing new in the rest of the fall repertory, so attention is on promising debuts:

Sep. 25: Baritone Gordon Bintner will sing Onegin in "Eugene Onegin," and already we'd like to see more of him.

San Francisco Opera's 'Eugene Onegin'  

Oct. 15: European sensation, mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster sings Mme de Croissy in "Dialogues of the Carmelites." Director Oliver Py makes his belated but eagerly awaited debut.

Nov. 11: Soprano Pretty Yende, who has the reputation as the hottest coloratura around and takes the trouble to break hearts with her portrayals, sings Violetta in "La Traviata."

Nov. 15: Star countertenor/break dancer Jakub Jozef Orlinski would have made his debut in Handel's "Partenope" in 2020 had it not been for the virus. A commanding physical presence that augments his voice should make something special out of Orpheus in "Orpheus and Eurydice."

$32-$393, "Antony and Cleopatra" Sep. 10-Oct. 5, Centennial Season through Dec. 3, War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave. www.sfopera.com

countertenor Jakub Jozef Orlinski  

San Francisco Symphony @ Davies Symphony Hall
Sep. 23: The Symphony has turned its opening night into a gala, so the season begins with something truly consequential: a complete Mendelssohn "A Midsummer Night's Dream" under Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, with all hands on deck. Beat that with a baton.

Oct. 13-15: If other musicians made as strong a first impression with her couture and hair (and smile) as Yuja Wang, classical music everywhere might look different. Not that long ago she gave the premiere of Adam's fiendish piano concerto, "Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes." This time she plays the world premiere of Magnus Lindberg's new concerto. Nuff said.

cellist Gautier Capucon  

Oct. 20, 22 (Oct. 21 at Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley): French pianist Bertrand Chamayou, himself a looker with a fetching stage demeanor, recently knocked it out of the park with a new recording of "Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant Jesus."

Here he performs Liszt's "Totentanz," a specialty, with Salonen, in a program that also ends with a lip-licking Berlioz "Symphonie fantastique." Great program, but it may be worth it for the yet-to-be-announced encore alone.

Nov. 11-13: Cellist Gautier Capucon, by a distance the most handsome musician performing today (and by all accounts modest and fun-loving), played the last concert in Davies Hall before COVID closed it. Game, he then played the first concert after it reopened. He plays the US premiere of Danny Elfman's Cello Concerto, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

Nov. 13: Daniil Trifonov joins the company of the four best pianists of their day, all of them appearing in some way in the Bay Area this fall. It's been a while since he wore tails, too, but he rightfully has a real following. He gives a recital with an uncommonly rich program, capped by Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit."

pianist Garrick Ohlsson and the Apollon Musagette Quartet  

$36-$165, San Francisco Symphony, Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave. www.sfsymphony.org

Garrick Ohlsson, Apollon Musagette Quartet @ Herbst Theatre
The out, San Francisco pianist, an artist of international stature, has never neglected the home crowd. This time he joins the hot, newish Polish string quartet for a probing program including Bach's "Art of the Fugue" and the Shostakovich Quintet. $50-$75, Oct. 7. 401 Van Ness Ave. www.sfperformances.org

Maxim Vengerov, Polina Osetinskaya @ Hertz Hall, Berkeley
When Maxim Vengerof hit the scene in the early 1980s, he was immediately greeted as the world's greatest living violinist. Like the few other musicians in that category, he performs less these days, making his appearances special occasions. Here, Bach, Beethoven, Shostakovich, and Tchaikovsky, with pianist Osetinskaya. $36 and up. Oct. 14. 101 Cross-Sproul Path, UC Berkeley campus. www.calperformances.org

Colin Currie Group with Synergy Vocals  

Colin Currie Group / Synergy Vocals @ Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
Minimalist composer Steve Reich, as beloved as a composer gets, has a long history with Bay Area audiences. This year a "Steve Reich Celebration" marks his 86th birthday, which should be quite a party. Repertoire includes the West Coast premiere of "Traveler's Prayer." $53-$88, Nov. 2. 101 Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley campus www.calperformances.org

Ying Fan, soprano, Ken Noda, piano @ Hertz Hall, Berkeley
When Ying Fan stepped out of the lineup to sing the soprano arias in a semi-staged Bach St. John Passion recently, she blew people out of their chairs. Her beautiful, bright, agile voice is also forward, and blessed with a capacity to bear feeling, and she's tearing up the stages of Europe. There augurs to be nothing standard or safe in her recital of songs by Schubert, Schumann, Mahler, and Strauss. Nov. 6, $53-$88. 101 Cross-Sproul Path, UC Berkeley campus. www.calperformances.org

Les Talens Lyriques

The nonpareil French period-instrument ensemble, under its founding director, Christophe Rousset, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a triple bill of not-to-be-missed recordings: "A Tribute to Pauline Viardot," with Marina Viotti (out Sep. 16); Lully's "Acis et Galatee" (Oct. 14); "The Sphere of Intimacy," completing Rousset's journey through the music of Francois Couperin.
Aparte www.apartemusic.com

"Tristan," Igor Levit
Pursuing the concept of night and its effects on us, the German pianist, known equally for his technique and his intellect, performs Hans Werner Henze's "Tristan" with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchestra, under Franz Welser-Möst. Rounding out the program are solo works by Liszt (including the Sonata), Wagner's "Tristan" Prelude in the Zoltan Kocsis transcription, and Ronald Stevenson's of the Adagio of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, a characteristically uncompromising program. Levit will be performing with the SF Symphony and in recital in 2023.
Sony Classics www.sonyclassical.com

Yuja Wang, Gautier Capucon, Andreas Ottensamer
These top-flight soloists, two of whom appear here in that capacity, are dedicated, vital chamber musicians. Their new CD, drawn from live performances on a celebrated tour, features sonatas by Rachmaninoff and Brahms and Brahms' sublime Clarinet Trio.
Deutsche Grammophon www.deutschegrammophon.com

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.