March will get off to a good start for those with a great interest in pianists and the piano repertoire. Indeed, on the second Tuesday of the month, there will be two recitals that will overlap in time almost entirely. Fortunately, the programs will appeal to significantly different tastes. All the selections on one program will come from the nineteenth century, while the programming for the other will consist only of 21st-century compositions.
The more traditional offering will be the final concert in the 2015–2016 Shenson Piano Series, made possible through the support of Fred M. Levin and Nancy Livingston of the Shenson Foundation and presented by San Francisco Performances (SFP). The recitalist will be British pianist Paul Lewis, who made his Bay Area debut in 2006 and has been presenting programs on both sides of the Bay Bridge since then. Next month’s concert will be his second appearance with SFP.
In May of 2014, Lewis completed a three-year project of recording major compositions by Franz Schubert with particular attention to his late piano sonatas. His interest in Schubert’s work has now extended back to earlier works, and he will begin his recital with a performance of the D. 575 sonata in B major. In a similar vein he undertook a recording of many of Franz Liszt’s last, and most adventurous, piano compositions, which had enough of an impact that, in September of 2014, harmonia mundi reissued his original 2007 recording on their mid-price Musique D’Abord (music at first sight) series. Here, again, Lewis has prepared an earlier work for next month’s program, “Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata,” supposedly inspired by a poem by Victor Hugo inspired, in turn, by reading a passage from the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Liszt included this piece in the second “year” (Italy) of his Années de pèlerinage (years of pilgrimage) series. Between these two major compositions, Lewis will perform two collections of short works by Johannes Brahms, the early Opus 10 set of three ballades and the much later Opus 117 set of three intermezzi.
This recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8. The venue will be Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Tickets for the concert will be $70, $55, and $40. Tickets may be purchased from SFP by telephone at 415-392-2545. In addition, tickets may be purchased online from a City Box Office event page. That page shows the seating areas covered by each price and the availability in each section of the house.
That same evening the Center for New Music (C4NM) will host the San Francisco debut of pianist Vicky Chow. Chow is currently the pianist for the Bang on a Can All-Stars and has worked with a variety of new music ensembles, including the International Contemporary Ensemble. Her recital, entitled permutations030816, will be curated by Ken Ueno. The title refers to the date of Steve Reich’s 80th birthday (October 3, 2016); and, to honor that occasion, Chow will perform “Piano Counterpoint,” which is basically an arrangement of Reich’s 1973 “Six Pianos” prepared by Vincent Corver in 2011. Chow gave the North American premiere of this version in Vancouver on January 28, 2013. The program will also include new works with electronics by Canadian composers Remy Siu (“foxconn frequency no. 2 for one visibly chinese performer”) and Adam Basanta (“this machine breathes to the rhythm of its own heartbeat”). Finally, Chow will give a prepared piano performance by “Vick(i/y),” written for her by Andy Akiho, which will be included on her forthcoming album on New Amsterdam Records.
This recital will begin at 8 p.m., also on on Tuesday, March 8. C4NM is located at 55 Taylor Street, about half a block north of where Golden Gate Avenue meets Market Street. As is the case with most C4NM events, general admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for C4NM members. Tickets will be available only at the door.