Next month the 2015–2016 season of the San Francisco Performances (SFP) Chamber Series will continue with the return of the Pacifica Quartet. This ensemble continues to consist of violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad, and cellist Brandon Vamos. The appearance will be their fifth visit under SFP auspices. Previous concerts took place in 2005, 2008, 2011 (with clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann as guest artist), and 2013 (with pianist Marc-André Hamelin as guest artist).
The ensemble is currently quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, a position that it has held since March of 2012. Prior to that appointment, the group had succeeded the Guarneri String Quartet as quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They held that position between 2009 and 2012.
The quartet has also released the results of some ambitious recording projects. Between 2008 and 2009 they recorded a two-CD set of the string quartets of Elliott Carter on the Naxos label. They then embarked on a project with Cedille Records to record the complete string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich, This was planned as a series of four volumes, each consisting of two CDs and each including an “appendix quartet” by a composer related in some way to Shostakovich. The four composers in these respective volumes were Nikolai Miaskovsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Mieczysław Weinberg, and Alfred Schnittke. That project was concluded in September of 2014.
Pacifica Quartet has a long-standing reputation for preparing programs that combine traditional selections with more modernist offerings. Thus, they played one of Widmann’s single-movement string quartets in 2011, while their collaboration with Hamelin included Leo Ornstein’s Opus 92 piano quintet. Next month their pursuit of modernism will be reflected by a performance of Israeli-born Shulamit Ran’s third string quartet, which will be receiving its West Coast premiere. The quartet, which has been given the title “Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory,” was jointly commissioned by SFP and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which gave the work its world premiere in New York. The piece was inspired by the works of artist Felix Nussbaum, who died in Auschwitz in 1944. The program will begin with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 590 quartet in F major and conclude with the second of Felix Mendelssohn’s Opus 44 quartets, written in the key of E minor.
This recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, February 12. 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 $65, $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.