The Bay Area could merit a nickname like "America's Vienna" because of its proliferation of excellent musical arts organizations, and the intriguing musical events coming up this week offer impressive evidence.
The Fremont Symphony will culminate its 50th-anniversary year Saturday night with one of the most "feel-good" concerts possible, abetted by special guest Quartet San Francisco. The festivities extend beyond the concert, as music director Gregory Van Sudmeier and the Fremont Symphony Orchestra board have invited the audience to a reception honoring David Sloss, the much-lauded conductor emeritus, and other past conductors.
Selections from Quartet San Francisco's newest CD, "Pacific Premieres: New Works by California Composers," will be the concert highlight. The recent release drew praise from Audiophile Audition magazine as "a wonderful swinging approach to the string quartet in five works." Quartet San Francisco has earned three Grammy nominations and took first place in the 2004 International Tango Competition in New York City.
Founded by Oakland native, violinist and composer Jeremy Cohen in 2001, it includes violinist Matthew Szemela, violist Chad Kaltinger and cellist Kelley Maulbetsch. Although the group excels in the conventional classical repertory, it is "not your mother's chamber music," quips Cohen.
Details: 8 p.m. at the Smith Center, 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont; $20-$49; 510-371-4859 or 877-938-9240.
ALL THINGS RUSSIAN: The Walnut Creek-based California Symphony, under the direction of the exuberant Donato Cabrera, presents "A Russian Spectacular" program Sunday afternoon, featuring the brilliant young Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev performing Rachmaninoff's meltingly romantic "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini."
Following a recent concert Yakushev performed in New York City, The New York Times raved: "Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants ... bringing the music to the brink of hysteria ... without ever letting it get away from him." Happily, I can attest that a concert he gave last month at Cupertino's Flint Center reaffirmed such extravagant praise.
Other works on the program are Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and a world premiere of a work by D.J. Sparr called "Dreams of the Old Believers." (The "Old Believers" refers to a conservative 17th-century Russian Christian group.)
A worthwhile addition to the program will be a preconcert talk by Cabrera and Yakushev at 3 p.m.
Details: 4 p.m., Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek; $15-$65; 925-943-7469, www.californiasymphony.org.
VOYAGE OF REDISCOVERY: The California Bach Society and the New Esterhazy Quartet present "Mozart and Haydn Rediscovered" concerts this weekend to highlight some of those two composers' lesser-known jewels. Among those gems will be Haydn's "Salve Regina," originally written for the Barmherzigen Bruder Church, located near Bach's birthplace in Eisenstadt, Germany, as well as music by Mozart -- his "Misericordias Domini" and the "Missa Brevis in F," composed for the curmudgeonly Archbishop Colloredo of Salzburg. A selection of delightful musical desserts, Haydn's playful part songs, will also be included on the program.
Details: 8 p.m. Friday, St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1111 O'Farrell St., San Francisco; 8 p.m. Saturday, All Saints Episcopal Church, 555 Waverly St., Palo Alto; 4 p.m. Sunday, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. $10-$25; 650-485-1097, http://www.calbach.org/tickets.pl.
Contact Cheryl North at email@example.com.