Midsummer Mozart Festival music director Paul Schrage conducts the orchestra. (Courtesy Midsummer Mozart Festival)

Midsummer Mozart Festival focuses on love

Words, wine add to music in SF program

Once again highlighting local luminaries, the Midsummer Mozart Festival celebrates its 45th season this week in five concerts with an array of favorite — as well as less often heard — works by the master composer, and with a look at romance in his life and compositions.

San Francisco resident Daniel Glover unfurls the festival’s regional talent with a piano recital on Thursday’s opening night at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage, where he will perform, among other works, Mozart’s pensively grand Fantasy in C minor, K. 475.

After the intermission, Glover teams up with pianist Thomas Hansen for the Sonata for four hands in F, K. 497, to complete a program that fits in with the festival’s goals.

“The Midsummer Mozart Festival is very well known for its orchestra concerts, and the orchestra will always be a central part of the festival,” says music director and pianist Paul Schrage. “But we want to start celebrating all the other great music he wrote. That’s why this year we programmed a piano recital and the ‘Words, Wine and Music’ event.”

Friday’s program at San Francisco’s Noe Valley Ministry, the festival’s first in the intimate venue, focuses on Mozart in love. Along with music, the event includes libations and comments from Stephanie Cowell, author of “Marrying Mozart,” a historical novel set in 1777 about the four Weber sisters, a musical family, just as a 21-year-old Mozart entered their lives.

The concert includes arias Mozart composed for the sisters, including Constanze, whom he married. Schrage on the piano accompanies expressive coloratura soprano Christina Major.

“The arias we selected reflect these relationships. The sisters were all very good musicians and singers. Mozart wrote ‘Nehmt meinem Dank’ for Aloysia, and she also sang the role of Donna Anna in the premiere of ‘Don Giovanni,’ which is why we selected ‘Crudele! — Ah no, mio bene.’ He wrote ‘Et incarnatus Est’ for his wife, Constanze, which comes from the Great Mass in C Minor,” says Schrage.

The program also features Midsummer Mozart Festival Chamber Players: violist Marcel Gemperli, cellist Eric Gaenslen and Bay Area natives, violinists Ani Bukujian and Robin Hansen, the festival’s 20-year concertmaster and executive director (no relation to pianist Thomas Hansen).

“We programmed the string quartets because we are making a concerted effort to offer a wider variety of Mozart’s music to our audience, and this was a great opportunity for the audience to hear an early and late quartet (No. 7 in E flat major, K.160 and No. 21 in D major, K. 575) in the same evening,” Schrage says.

Hansen adds, “It’s really the highlight of my year to play with the Midsummer Mozart Festival. Everybody in the audience has a smile on their faces, and it’s such a wonderful feeling to perform his compositions because every one of them is a masterpiece.”

IF YOU GO

Words, Wine and Music

Presented by Midsummer Mozart Festival

Where: Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 12

Tickets: $12 to $65 most performances (free at Cazadero)

Note: Other concerts are at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 11 at Freight and Salvage, Berkeley; 8 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at Trianon Theatre, San Jose; 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14 at Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma;and 3:30 p.m. July 15 at Cazadero Music Camp, Cazadero

Contact: http://midsummermozart.org

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