This month San Francisco Performances (SFP) will conclude its 2015–2016 Chamber Series by featuring the San Francisco debut of the Italian Quartetto di Cremona. The members are violinists Cristiano Gualco and Paolo Andreoli, violist Simone Gramaglia, and cellist Giovanni Scaglione; and, as often seems to be the case with recently-formed chamber ensembles, they organized themselves as a quartet in 2000 while students at the Accademia Walter Stauffer in Cremona, where they studied with Salvatore Accardo, Bruno Giuranna, and Rocco Filippini.
Cremona is, of course, the city most closely associated with the highest standards of violin-making. Giuseppe Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari, and the Amati family all plied their craft in Cremona. These days any instrument from Cremona is a highly-valued collector’s item, which may explain why the only Cremona instrument in this new ensemble is played by the group’s leader. (Gualco plays a 1712 instrument made by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini.)
The group’s repertoire, of course, extends way beyond the eighteenth century (and just as way beyond the current national boundaries of Italy). While they have provided a platform for such current Italian composers as Fabio Vacchi, Silvia Colasanti, and Michele Dall’Ongaro, their repertoire also includes Wolfgang Rihm and Helmut Lachenmann. Nevertheless, they have chosen to introduce themselves to San Francisco with a more conventional bill of fare. They will open their program with the sixth quartet (in the key of C major) in Luigi Boccherini’s Opus 2 collection, followed by Ottorino Respighi’s only quartet (written in the key of D major). They will devote the second half of the program entirely to Ludwig van Beethoven with a performance of Opus 131 in C-sharp minor.
This debut concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. The venue will be Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Tickets will be available at the Premium price of $65, as well as $55 and $40. City Box Office has an event page for advance online purchases. Tickets will also be available for purchase from SFP by telephone at 415-392-2545.
In addition, through their ongoing relationship with SFP, the Community Music Center (CMC) will host Quartetto di Cremona for a preview event the preceding evening. The ensemble will be the final guests for the 2015–2016 Concert with Conversation series and will use the occasion to introduce the audience to some of their repertoire in a more informal setting. This will be a one-hour event with “conversation” devoted to an extended Q&A session with the audience.
This particular program will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 15. The venue is the CMC Capp Street Concert Hall, located in the Mission at 544 Capp Street, between 20th Street and 21st Street. (Capp Street is located between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue.) These events are free and open to the general public. However, because they tend to be popular, early arrival is strongly encouraged.