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Up Musical Memory Lane for the Fall Season

August 14, 2018

Isn’t it romantic?
Music in the night, a dream that can be heard
Isn’t it romantic?

Most organizations try to present a varied, balanced program of early-Classical-Romantic-contemporary music, but there is no similar ambition for this completely personal look at some favored Romantic/neo-Romantic works in the offing in San Francisco as the fall season approaches.

San Francisco Symphony, opening the season on Sept. 5, goes Romantic quickly, with Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1 and the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations paired with Gershwin at the All-San Francisco Concerts on Sept. 6 and 8.

(On Sept. 21, a series of concerts forming the season’s Stravinsky Festival begins, but the many-splendored, style-onto-himself Russian is not considered a Romantic composer for our purpose - however much anticipated and treasured.)

Pittsburgh Symphony Music Director Manfred Honeck is the guest conductor Oct. 11–13, with Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major on the program. Pianist Evgeny Kissin’s Oct. 14 recital in the Great Performer Series will include 10 preludes by Rachmaninov.

When Pablo Heras-Casado returns to conduct, on Oct. 18–20, the concert will include (besides the brilliant but un-Romantic Bartók Piano Concerto No. 3, with Javier Perianes), Debussy’s Ibéria, and Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso and Boléro.

The visiting Mariinsky Orchestra from St. Petersburg will play Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun and Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on Oct. 22; Valery Gergiev will also conduct Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

A double dose of Dvořák comes from an authentic source on Nov. 11, when the touring Czech Philharmonic, conducted by its new music director, Semyon Bychkov, plays the Cello Concerto in B Minor (Alisa Weilerstein, soloist) and the Symphony No. 7.

Cellist Gautier Capucon and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet appear in recital on the Great Performers Series, Dec. 2, playing Debussy’s Sonata No. 1 and Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano; and Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata in G Minor.

Across Grove Street, San Francisco Opera has its own Romantic offerings, from the season-opening double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (Sept. 7–30) to Puccini’s Tosca (Oct. 3–30) and Richard Strauss’ Arabella (Oct. 16–Nov. 3).

Smaller in scale by definition, but big in ambition, Pocket Opera has its own Romantic productions in its 2019 season: Donizetti’s Elixir of Love (Feb 24, Mar 3, Mar 10); Smetana’s Two Widows (Mar 24, Mar 31); Puccini’s La Rondine (April 28, May 5); Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann (June 2, 9, 16); and Rossini’s Barber of Seville (July 14, 21, 28).

Among the area’s legion of chamber-music concerts, Music at Kohl Mansion has such Romantic works as the Aeolus Quartet’s Oct. 28 scheduling of the great and still-underperformed Erich Korngold’s String Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, Op. 26 on an evening also featuring the music of Golijov, Ben Johnson, and Beethoven.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].