San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Announces Season Opener
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra opens its 64th season with Strings Attached, a concert showcasing the expressive possibilities of the string sections of the orchestra. The performance, conducted by music director Ben Simon, includes Quartettsatz by Franz Schubert, J.S. Bach's Violin Concerto in E Major with soloist Robin Sharp, and Divertimento for Strings by Béla Bártók.
Schubert's Quartettsatz, a single movement work originally for string quartet, was written when Schubert was a few weeks before Schubert's 24th birthday. Composing in the post-Beethoven era must have been challenging, as Beethoven had singlehandedly revolutionized western music. Yet this single movement now stands alongside the greatest works in the quartet repertoire. It was Beethoven's Quartet, Op. 131 that Schubert requested to hear on his deathbed. "After this, what is left for us to write?" he supposedly said upon listening to it for the first time. The sublime melodies in the Quartettsatz are a great example of Schubert's ability to produce tunes of extraordinary beauty and simplicity.
Bach's effervescent violin concerto continues the SFCO's exploration of the expressive possibilities of the stringed instruments. A creation of purest Bachian splendor, this concerto showcases the violinist's technical command, along with her sense of emotion, poetry, fantasy and wit. It is not certain when, where, or why Bach wrote his violin concertos, whether he played the solo parts himself, or even how many of them he wrote, since several were probably lost. Bach was a capable player and liked to direct his orchestras while playing the viola part.
Violinist Robin Sharp, also serves as the concertmaster of SFCO, and is a member of the music faculty at Stanford University. Ms. Sharp has appeared in recital at many prestigious venues including the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the National Music Hall in Taipei, and at Carnegie Hall.
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra
Béla Bartók's great Divertimento for Strings, music is a spicy combination of Hungarian flavors, folk tunes and peasant dances and rhythms, transformed through his genius into a dramatic and beautiful essay for stringed instruments, at once outgoing, earthy and good-humored. In 1939, Bártók at 58 was at the height of his powers and reputation, and Europe was at a terrible crossroads with gathering war clouds. For perhaps the last time in his life, Bártók was able to write music that didn't reflect the world around him. The divertimento is one of his lightest and most accessible scores.
Performances are at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Friday, October 27 at 7:30pm, at the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto on Saturday, October 28, at 7:30pm, and at St John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley at 3:00pm, Sunday, October 29.
Admission to all concerts is free to the public.