David Finckel and Wu Han inaugurated their 2010-11 duo season with a performance of the complete Beethoven Sonatas for piano and cello on the Cal Performances series at UC Berkeley. It was the duo’s second appearance for the distinguished Bay Area series, and the duo’s fifth performance of the Beethoven cycle this year, following New Orleans, New York’s Alice Tully Hall (for CMS), the Aspen Music Festival, and Music@Menlo.
in David’s words…
Cal Performances, founded in 1906 at the University of California, Berkeley, has steadily grown to become the most comprehensive performing arts series in Northern California. The organization presents over one hundred events annually in five venues in and around the campus, drawing its audience from the famously open-minded, diverse population of the Bay Area, and from among UC Berkeley’s thirty-five-thousand brilliant students.
Hertz Hall, named after one of the early conductors of the San Francisco Symphony, is a 1000-seat venue with perfect acoustics for chamber music. It was a real pleasure to play the sonatas there, not only because of the hall but on account of the intensity with which the public engaged themselves in the music. I could see neither empty seats nor anyone checking their e mail!
Rostropovich teaching at Berkeley, October 1975
Hertz Hall brought back vivid memories, all the way from 1975, when I played the Prokofiev Sonata for Rostropovich there in his series of master classes. I was lucky enough to have been invited by him to participate among the local students, and it was there I first met and played with pianist Sylvia Kahan, who was the official class pianist. ( I have since re-connected with Sylvia through her authorship of the first biography of the arts patroness Winaretta Singer, the Princesse de Polignac, whose legacy will be celebrated next season at CMS.)
Wu Han thanks donors and Matias Tarnopolsky
After the long concert, which included Wu Han’s signature introductions to the pieces from the stage, we were given a reception courtesy of Music@Menlo board member Kathy Henschel. Kathy, an avid supporter of the Berkeley Symphony, Chanticleer, Cal Performances as well as Music@Menlo, made a passionate speech, encouraging everyone to support many Bay Area arts organizations in the belief that a community can never have too much of a good thing. She had brought brochures for all her organizations, and her inclusive advocacy was gamely embraced by Cal Performances director Matias Tarnopolsky, who warmly praised both Kathy’s vision and character. We could not have agreed more and were very proud to be able to call her one of Music@Menlo’s own.
Kathy Henschel, Matias Tarnopolsky
After the reception we gathered our Music@Menlo contingent (Kathy and her friend Chris, Executive Director Edward Sweeney and Development Director Annie Rohan) and met up with family at the China Village Restaurant in nearby Albany (www.chinavillagesolano.com), the only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in the Bay Area, for a custom-ordered Szechuan meal, which included “REAL kung-pao chicken” (according to Wu Han), many other dishes way to delicious to describe, and a flaming pineapple filled with shrimp and pineapple.
Matias Tarnopolsky also joined us, and it was inspiring to hear this very young director (who has just in the last year taken over the position) speak of his vision for the organization, his innovative projects, and his commitment to quality experiences for his audience. We very much look forward to our return engagement there next season.