Readers of this site are probably getting used to the fact that hard choices need to be made during the week, rather than just on weekends. Two weeks from today they will have to face such a choice between two promising chamber music recitals by visiting artists currently on tour. One involves a critically acclaimed young pianist who has committed himself to learning the eighteen piano études composed by György Ligeti. The other offers a broader repertoire performed by three young laureates of the Princess Christina Concourse held in Holland.
The Ligeti recital will be curated by Ken Ueno as part of his permutations series of concerts at the Center for New Music (C4NM). The pianist will be Taka Kigawa, who first established his reputation by winning First Prize in the 1990 Japan Music Foundation Competition in Tokyo. Each of Ligeti’s études is relatively short; so Thomas Hell’s WERGO recording of the complete set (discussed on my national site in December of 2012) clocks in at less than an hour. Ligeti collected them in three books. The first book was composed in 1985 and consists of six études. Ligeti then worked on the second book between 1988 and 1994, and it resulted in the next round of eight études. The final four études were composed between 1995 and 2001 and collected in the third book.
Those familiar with Ligeti will know that his brevity of duration is deceptive. He had an uncanny skill for packing extensive complexity into each of the études. It therefore goes without saying that each of these études is, literally, a “study” that will serve to exercise and expand technical skills. However, while the “letter” of these études may share Frédéric Chopin’s interest in writing music to hone those skills, the “spirit” is much closer to the two books of preludes by Claude Debussy. This is clear from the many titles that Ligeti assigns to his études that explore, as Debussy did, the “meeting ground” between visual and auditory impressions. Thus, the listener encountering these études for the first time need not worry excessively about the complexity and focus, instead, on the titles of the études and the impressions they suggest.
Kigawa’s recital will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3. C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members. Tickets will be available only at the door.
At exactly the same time the Northern California chapter of the Netherland-American Foundation will host a visit by three young musicians, who were all prize winners in the Dutch Princess Christina Concourse. The performers will be pianist Jurre van Egteren, serving as soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician, violinist Eva de Vries, and hornist Rinske van Oosterhout, whose primarily contribution will be to perform the first two movements of Johannes Brahms Opus 40 trio in E-flat major with de Vries and van Egteren. She will also be accompanied by van Egteren in two short selections by Francis Poulenc and Jean Françaix, respectively. The violin performances by de Vries will feature music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev, and Scott Joplin (the last in an arrangement by Itzhak Perlman). The solo piano selections played by van Egteren will be by Bach, Chopin, and Enrique Granados.
This concert will also begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3. The venue will be St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, located at 1111 O’Farrell Street, just to the west of the corner with Franklin Street. The concert will be free of charge to members of the Netherland-American Foundation. The admission for all others will be $15. Both tickets may be ordered in advance through an Eventbrite event page, which also provides hyperlinks to further details about both the performers and the full program.