A dozen picks from SF Performances 2012-13 season

Anne-Sophie Mutter

San Francisco Performances, the City's leading presenter of visiting artists, has some fantastic performers lined up this year, including three of the most prominent violinists in the world (who happen to be female).

The selections are listed in chronological order.

Jonathan Biss (piano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Carey Bell (clarinet), Scott St. John (viola)  October 4
Biss is a young pianist making a name for himself as a musician as well as a thoughtful writer. A featured artist this season, he brings four different programs and line-ups with him (headlining his own series) emphasizing the music of Schumann and his influence. All seem worthwhile, but the presence here of Carey Bell, Principal Clarinet of the San Francisco Symphony and a truly marvelous musician, makes this one a must. Program: Schumann: Märchnerzahlungen, Fantasy; Kurtag: Homage à Schumann; Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte

The Bad Plus  October 12
Reid Anderson, Ethan Iverson and David King comprise one of the most adventurous and intriguing jazz ensembles of the last decade. Rolling Stone magazine said they're "about as badass as highbrow gets." I wish I'd said that. Program: The West Coast Premiere of Rite of Spring (a re-working of Stravinsky's in celebration of its 100th anniversary) and other works.

Jean-Yves Thibaudet  November 4
Thibaudet has been on the scene for so long it's easy to take him for granted. At least I recently felt that way, and had only a marginal interest in seeing him perform with the Symphony last season. Well, I left that concert more impressed with Thibaudet than ever before, and I'm really looking forward to hearing him again in this solo recital featuring some of Debussy's most beautiful compositions. Program: Debussy: Préludes, Book II; Suite Bergamasque; Estampes; L'Isle joyeuse.

Kate Royal and Malcolm Martineau  November 10
In May of 2011 the soprano was to perform a program called "Lesson in Love" but it was cancelled for health reasons. Now she's returning to tell us "The Truth About Love," - a love story told through song featuring works by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Faure, Debussy, Bridge and Britten. She'll be accompanied by the excellent pianist Malcom Martineau.

Pavel Haas Quartet  November 13

Performances of Janáček's masterful first string quartet are rare enough, and though it was recently performed during last June's Ojai North! festival, here's an opportunity to hear it without any of the added distractions that concert featured. That's reason enough to go, but the scheduling of Beethoven's Op. 130, complete with Grosse Fugue, makes this an especially inviting program. Brahms' Quartet in A minor, Op. 51, No. 2 is also on the schedule.

Hilary Hahn and Valentina Lisitsa  February 9
Hahn and Lisitsa will perform Beethoven's Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Opus 23; Bach's: Sonata No. 2 in A minor for Solo Violin, BWV 1003 and selected shorts commisioned by Hahn from Mason Bates, David Lang, Edgar Meyer, Krzysztof Penderecki, Valentyn Silvestrov, Mark Anthony Turnage, Du Yun and others in the intimate Herbst Theatre. What more do you need to know?

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis  March 4
Anne-Sophie returns to Davies Symphony Hall for the first time in four years to perform Lutoslawski's Partita; Schubert's Fantasie in C Major, D. 934; Previn's Sonata No. 2; and Saint Saens' Sonata for Violin and Piano in D minor, Op. 75. Again, what more do you need to know?

Jonathan Biss  March 17
Biss' solo recital features Schumann's Fantasiestücke, interspersed with selections from Janáček's On an Overgrown Path and Davidsbündlertänze. What this really means I'm not sure, but Berg's Sonata No. 1 is also on the program and it's always interesting to see this daunting work performed.

Midori  March 23 & 24
Midori performs Bach's Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin. The first evening features Sonatas 1 in G minor and 3 in C Major along with Partita No. 2 in D minor. The second features (yes, this is obvious, but still, for those who can't do the math, here it is-) Partitas No. 1 in B minor and No. 3 in E Major, along with Sonata No. 2 in A minor. Both evenings take place at St Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco.

Luciana Souza  March 30
The unique jazz singer is joined by Romero Lubambo on guitar in a program of Brazilan duos behind the release of Duos III, which commemorates her ten year journey through this musical terrain.

Philip Glass at 75: Koyaanisqatsi  May 26
Godfrey Reggio’s iconic film will be screened with a live performance of its soundtrack by the composer and his ensemble. A truly special event.

Finally, let me just say that if they weren't scheduled for Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM, the Alexander String Quartet's programs during San Francisco Performance's upcoming season could easily have taken up a third of the dozen picks through the combination of their formidable talent, the quality of their programs (Schubert and Britten are prominently featured this season), and the presence of historian/lecturer extraordinaire Robert Greenberg. But they are at 10:00 AM, and that's too early for me to include on this list (I follow my own arbitrary rules)- but if that doesn't sound too early to you, I bet they're going to be wonderful. 

Individual tickets go on sale August 20; series are on sale now. Single tickets may be purchased by calling the main box office at (415) 392-2545 or by visiting the website at sfperformances.org.