One of the more interesting performing groups in San Francisco is an ensemble that calls itself the San Francisco Munich Trio. The name signifies the union of San Francisco cellist Rebecca Rust with her husband Friedrich Edelmann, formerly Principal Bassoon for the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, both performing with Bay Area pianist Vera Breheda. As might be guessed, this unconventional combination of instruments provides for an approach to repertoire that is definitely exploratory and frequently adventurous. I came to know the group through the free recitals they give on an occasional basis in the Noontime Concerts™ series held at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in Chinatown.
This ensemble is now building up a repertoire of videos made by Joel McKinnon and uploaded to YouTube. Five of the videos were recorded at a recital in Oakland this past September 15, while the other two present Rust and Edelmann performing as a duo at a house party in Moss Beach that same month. The most extensive of these recordings is a performance by the trio of a fantasie, the Opus 87, Number 1 of Jan Koetsier, which is dedicated to Rust and Edelmann. Episodic in nature, the score recalls similarly structured compositions given the same label by Franz Schubert; but both the sonorities and the rhetoric through which they are expressed are decidedly twentieth-century. Koetsier was a Dutch composer whose interest in different instruments is almost as prolific as that of Paul Hindemith, but he seems to have had a special place in his heart for the lower register. Having this fantasie available as a recording of a concert performance provides a much-needed opportunity to become more familiar with his work.
The ensemble also seems to have a certain interest in twentieth-century Judaica, best captured in the “Prayer” movement from a suite by Max Stern entitled Laudations. This is complemented by another short piece entitled “Prayer,” this one composed by Ernest Bloch for cello and piano for his From Jewish Life suite. A much lighter side to the relationship between cello and bassoon emerges in a short piece entitled “American Ragtime” by Arthur Frackenpohl, which was recorded at both the Oakland concert and the Moss Beach house party. For those interested in a more traditional side of the repertoire, there is a recording of Rust playing the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Opus 69 sonata in A major at the Oakland concert and Rust and Edelman performing a duo sonata movement in C major by Johann Friedrich Fasch in Moss Beach. These are both highly satisfying accounts of more conventional offerings, but the real treats come from the opportunity YouTube affords to explore less familiar repertoire.