SF Performances was an early pioneer of presenting concerts at convenient, nontraditional times in a casual atmosphere that appeals to audiences and fosters a close connection to the artists. The flagship of this trailblazing continues to be the tremendously popular Saturday morning series with the Alexander String Quartet and Robert Greenberg. Together, the five artists and their devoted audiences spend Saturday mornings plumbing the depths of important chamber music composers, their lives and times. The programs feature performances of complete works, preceded by Greenberg's commentary, which brims with information, personal glimpses of the composers' lives, and often humorous details.
The program to be performed will be part two of the two-season exploration of Shostakovich's string quartets and chamber works and will include his Quartet No. 13 in B-flat minor, Op. 138 and Quartet No. 14 in F-sharp Major, Op. 142.
The musical career of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) mirrored exactly the rise and history of the Soviet Union from 1917-1975. He entered the Petrograd Conservatory at the very end of the Tsarist era; he witnessed the Revolution and began his career during Lenin's rule; he was nearly purged twice by Stalin; he flourished under Khrushchev and died while Brezhnev was in power. Shostakovich was a survivor and a great composer, and his fear and self-loathing, his courage and experience found their way into his music. As such, Shostakovich is not just the most important composer of string quartets and symphonies from the 1920s to the 1970s; even more, he and his music stand as witnesses to the rise and failures of the Soviet Union, one of the defining events of the twentieth century.