Violinist Itzhak Perlman celebrated his 70th birthday this past August 31. That gives him the entire 2015–2016 concert season to celebrate this landmark age at any number of the many venues in which he has played for admiring audiences. Next month San Francisco will get its turn in the celebration. Perlman has scheduled both concert appearances with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and a recital with pianist Emanuel Ax, both of which will take place in Davies Symphony Hall.
As was the case with his last visit to the Davies podium in April of 2012, Perlman will perform as both conductor and soloist. This time he will lead SFS while performing the solo part in Ludwig van Beethoven’s two romances for violin and orchestra, Opus 40 in G major, composed in 1802, and Opus 50 in F major, composed earlier in 1798. Taken together, these pieces fit within the period of Beethoven’s first five violin sonatas; and they share many of the lyrical traits of the slow movements of those sonatas.
Following up on his 2013 program, Perlman will also lead SFS in another symphony by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, this time K. 183 in G minor. However, while he devoted the second half of his 2013 program to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Opus 36 (fourth) symphony in F minor, this time he will turn his attention to Johannes Brahms with the Opus 98 (fourth) symphony in E minor. In 2013 Perlman made a strong impression with his disciplined approach to Tchaikovsky that did not short-change the music’s expressiveness. Brahms’ Opus 98 is also deeply expressive but without Tchaikovsky’s inclinations for flamboyance, and it will be interesting to observe Perlman’s approach to interpreting this last of Brahms’ symphonies.
This program will be given only two performances in Davies Symphony Hall. They will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 9, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 10. Ticket prices range from $35 to $159. Tickets may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the SFS Web site. They may also be purchased at the Davies Box Office on Grove Street between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street or by calling 415-864-6000. The concert on January 10 will be a benefit for the orchestra’s pension fund.
A little over a week later Perlman will give his recital with Ax. (This will take place after Ax has completed his appearances as soloist with SFS next month.) The major work on the program will be Richard Strauss’ only violin sonata, his Opus 18 in E-flat major. Strauss composed this sonata between 1887 and 1888, the time when he met the soprano Pauline de Ahna, whom he would later wed; and it is not difficult to listen to this sonata in terms of its amorous rhetoric. The program will also include selected sonatas by Mozart and Gabriel Fauré, but specific details have not yet been released.
This program will be given only one performance in Davies Symphony Hall. It will all take place at 8 p.m. on Monday, January 18. Ticket prices range from $25 to $175. Tickets may be purchased through the event page for this concert on the SFS Web site.