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IN Listening Ahead THIS WEEK:

SYMPHONY

EARLY MUSIC

CHAMBER
MUSIC

CHORAL
MUSIC

CONTEMPORARY
MUSIC

EVENTS

OPERA

DANCE

RECITAL

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A Selective and Subjective Guide
to the Classical Music Scene
for February 21–March 6, 2006

By Janos Gereben,
Mickey Butts, and
Michelle Dulak Thomson


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SYMPHONY

Symphony's 6.5 at 6:30
The San Francisco Symphony's "6.5" programs offer a new and unusual approach to concert presentation. Instead of an 8 p.m. program, with a lecture preceding it at 7, "6.5" events start at 6:30, roll lecture and performance into one, and allow the audience to leave close to the time other concerts start. This week's edition features Alan Gilbert as speaker and conductor, with the Schumann Piano Concerto (Shai Wosner, soloist), and R. Strauss' Death and Transfiguration. February 24, 6:30 p.m., Davies Hall, San Francisco, $20-$107, (415) 864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org. (J.G.)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Not even Philharmonia could resist the Mozart anniversary, but theirs is a concert with a difference: Besides the familiar favorites (the "big" G-minor Symphony, No. 40, and the Clarinet Concerto with Eric Hoeprich as soloist), the March 3-11 concerts feature soprano Cyndia Sieden tackling four of Mozart's best concert arias. This is underperformed music, and with some reason — many of the parts are spectacularly difficult to sing. Popoli di Tessaglia, among other things, contains the highest note Mozart ever asked a singer to hit (a G in alt). There are few chances to hear this music performed live, so don't miss this one. March 3, 8 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto; March 4-5, First Congregational Church, Berkeley; March 10, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; March 11, Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Lafayette; $28-$62, (415) 392-4400, www.philharmonia.org. (M.D.T.)

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EARLY MUSIC

California Bach Society
Orlando Gibbons and John Dowland wrote music for the highly musical court of James I, founder of the Stuart dynasty in the 17th century. The California Bach Society presents these works, composed for voices and viols, in a program titled "Do not repine, fair sun." March 3, 8 p.m., St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Berkeley; March 4, 8 p.m., All Saints' Episcopal Church, Palo Alto; March 5, 4 p.m., St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco; $10-$25, (415) 262-0272, www.calbach.org. (J.G.)

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CHAMBER MUSIC

Belcea Quartet
The Belcea is rapidly proving itself one of the great young string quartets. On March 5, they bring Mozart to San Francisco's Herbst Theatre — the quartets K. 499 and 465, paired with Britten's valedictory Third. The String Quartet in D Major (K. 499) is probably the least-played of the great Mozart quartets, and the Britten is his last masterpiece. March 5, 7 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, $26-$44, (415) 392-2545, www.performances.org. (M.D.T.)

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CHORAL MUSIC

American Bach Soloists
Pairing old and new, ABS is breaking with its usual early-music format in a concert titled "The Great English Choral Tradition," featuring 16th to 20th century works, a consort of viols, and Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor. February 24, 8 p.m., St. Stephen's Church, Belvedere; February 25, 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; February 26, 7 p.m., First Unitarian Church, San Francisco; February 27, 8 p.m., Davis Community Church, Davis; $10-$40, (415) 621-7900, www.americanbach.org. (M.B.)

Oakland East Bay Symphony and Oakland Symphony Chorus
Michael Morgan conducts the Oakland East Bay Symphony at a concert featuring Dvorák's Stabat Mater. Soloists include soprano Hope Briggs, mezzo Lisa van der Ploeg, tenor Kalil Wilson, and bass Craig Phillips. February 24, 8 p.m., Paramount Theatre, Oakland, $15-$60, (510) 444-0801, www.oebs.org. (J.G.)

Sacred & Profane
The chamber chorus performs a program of works with organ, including Maurice Duruflé's Requiem and Arvo Pärt's Berliner Requiem. February 25, 8 p.m., St. Ambrose Church, Berkeley; February 26; 4 p.m., Trinity Lutheran Church, Walnut Creek; $12-$18, (510) 524-3611, www.sacredprofane.org. (M.B.)

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CONTEMPORARY MUSIC

Del Sol Salon Concert
The Del Sol String Quartet performs a "Twentieth Century & Beyond" program — of music by George Antheil, Keyla Orozco, and Jose Evangelista in the "Salons at the Rex" series. February 22, 6:30 p.m., Hotel Rex (Sutter at Mason), San Francisco, $18, (415) 398-6449, www.performances.org. (J.G.)

John Adams/Alarm Will Sound
Cal Performances features the last of its groundbreaking Composer Portrait collaboration with Columbia University's Miller Theater, this time a concert focusing on works of John Adams spanning 20 years: China Gates, Chamber Symphony, Gnarly Buttons, and Scratchband. The players, Alarm Will Sound, come to the Bay Area for the first time. The New York Times recently wrote, "Alarm Will Sound is about as close to being a rock band as a chamber orchestra can be. It is the Kronos Quartet writ large." March 5, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley campus, $32, (510) 642-9988, www.calperfs.berkeley.edu. (M.B.)

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EVENTS

All About Sicily
San Francisco Opera music administrator Kip Cranna lectures on Sicily's operatic connections as part of the Humanities West seminar on the historic island, ruled by Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, and lately, Italians. Begins February 24, 8 p.m., and continues February 25, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $30-$35, Herbst Theater, San Francisco, (415) 392-4400, www.humanitieswest.org/. (J.G.)

Musical Memorial to David Babbitt
For over 20 years, San Francisco Bach Choir Artistic Director David Babbitt enriched the Bay Area's early music scene with rare performances of German post-Reformation composers. Babbitt passed away in his sleep on February 4, and a musical memorial will celebrate his life. February 26, 5:30 p.m., Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, (415) 992-6562, www.sfbach.org. (M.B.)

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OPERA

Lescaut in Palo Alto
West Bay Opera's 50th season opens with Puccini's Manon Lescaut, conducted by Matthias Kuntzsch, directed by David Ostwald, and featuring Olga Chernisheva, Paula Goodman Wilder, Percy Martinez, and Gabriel Reoyo-Pazos in the leading roles. February 24-25, 8 p.m.; February 26, 2 p.m.; Lucie Stern Theater, Palo Alto, $23-$50, (650) 424-9999, www.wbopera.org. (J.G.)

Livermore's Merry Widow
Livermoreans and those in the vicinity will have a chance to see Franz Lehár's Merry Widow right at home. Alex Katsman conducts and Andrew Morgan is stage director. February 25, 8 p.m.; February 26, 2 p.m., Livermore Performing Arts Theater, $25-$40, (925) 960-9210, www.livermorevalleyopera.com. (J.G.)

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DANCE

Yuan Yuan Tan in 'Magrittomania'

Photo by
Erik Tomasson

Beethoven and Magritte
Umbrellas and homburg hats and giant green apples ... oh my! One of San Francisco Ballet's most striking musical and visual presentations is on exhibit in the War Memorial Opera House right now, part of the SFB Program #3. Yuri Possokhov's Magrittomania delighted audiences at its 2000 premiere, and it's being revived, none too soon. Just as eyepopping and funny as the choreography, the music in this loving tribute to the Belgian master of surrealism is a gem. You don't have to be a fan of Switched-on Bach or Spike Jones to appreciate the liberties Yuri Kasavin takes with Beethoven — it's clever, insightful, amusing, and at times downright hilarious. Everything from the Diabelli Variations to sonatas, piano concertos, and symphonies (even Für Elise) appears, twists, gurgles, and disappears, the dancers reflecting every turn. Also on this program: Paul Taylor's Spring Rounds (to Richard Strauss' Divertimento After Couperin) and Agnes de Mille's Rodeo (Copland). February 21, 8 p.m.; February 22, 7:30 p.m.; February 24, 8 p.m.; February 26, 2 p.m.; War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco, $8-$169, (415) 865-2000, www.sfballet.org. (J.G.)

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RECITAL

Balázs Szolokay plays
a Chopin birthday concert

For Chopin's Birthday
Fryderyk François Chopin was born at Zelazowa Wola, near Warsaw, on February 22, 1810, at six o'clock in the evening. Four days and 196 years later, Chopin's birthday will be celebrated in San Francisco with a recital by Hungarian virtuoso Balázs Szokolay. The program includes 14 Waltzes, Sonata in B minor, and Variations Brillantes. February 26, 3 p.m., Old First Church, San Francisco, $12-$15, (415) 474-1608, www.oldfirstconcerts.org. (J.G.)

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More events can be found in the SFCV Calendar.

(Janos Gereben is a regular contributor to SFCV; his e-mail address is janosg@gmail.com. Mickey Butts is executive director and publisher of San Francisco Classical Voice. His writing has appeared in Salon, Food & Wine, The Industry Standard, Wired, Parenting, Sunset, The Nation, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Michelle Dulak Thomson is a violinist and violist who has written about music for Strings, Stagebill, Early Music America, and The New York Times.)

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