The imposing, the intimate, the pop, the arcane, the venerable: They all await you amid the fall's vast classical music offerings. Here are some possibilities.

  • Distinguished soloists. Wispelwey. If you are into complete-ism -- or just love J.S. Bach's Suites for Solo Cello -- then you must attend Pieter Wispelwey's traversal of the six suites. Over the course of two concerts in one day (Nov. 9) at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco, the great Dutch cellist will apply his soulful intelligence to "the cellist's Bible," as the suites are often described. His sound is earthy, round, majestic. His approach is probing and patient. ($38 for one concert, $70 for two; 415-392-2545, www.sfperformances.org.)

    More for complete-ism freaks: Pianist András Schiff plays the six Bach Partitas (Oct. 6) and Bach's "Goldberg" Variations along with Beethoven's "Diabelli" Variations (Oct. 13) at Davies Symphony Hall. ($15-$96 for each concert; www.sfperformances.org, www.sfsymphony.org.) Cellist Bonnie Hampton performs the complete Beethoven cello sonatas; two concerts in one day (Oct. 13) at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. ($20; 415-503-6275, www.sfcm.edu.)


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  • San Francisco Symphony. So much to see and hear, including a two-week festival of works by Mendelssohn and Thomas Adès, led by incisive conductor Pablo Heras-Casado (Oct. 3-6, Oct. 10-12); and performances of Britten's "War Requiem" to mark the composer's centenary year, conducted by Semyon Bychkov (Nov. 27-30).

    Well, call me a philistine, but the most pleasurable attraction could involve repeated trips to the movies during Halloween week at Davies Symphony Hall (Oct. 30-Nov.2). While Hitchcock classics roll onscreen, the orchestra will perform their scores, including Bernard Herrmann's tingling settings of "Vertigo" and "Psycho." On Halloween night, pipe organist Todd Wilson will accompany Hitchcock's early silent thriller "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog." (Single tickets for film series: $41-$156, or $20-$60 for "The Lodger." Subscriptions available. 415-864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org.)

  • San Francisco Opera. Singers! Singers! The new season opens at War Memorial Opera House with Boito's "Mephistopheles" and a celebrity cast, including tenor Ramón Vargas as Faust and soprano Patricia Racette as his Margherita. (Sept. 6-Oct. 2). The season continues with the world premiere of Tobias Picker's "Dolores Claiborne," based on the Stephen King novel. Racette stepped into the title role Monday when Dolora Zajick withdrew from the production. (Sept. 18-Oct. 4; soprano Catherine Cook, not Racette, sings the title role Oct. 1 and 4.) And bass-baritone Bryn Terfel stars as Verdi's "Falstaff." (Oct. 8 -Nov. 2.) (Tickets for each production: $23-$385; 415-864-3330, www.sfopera.com.)

  • East Bay orchestras. The California Symphony steps into a new era with a new music director: Donato Cabrera, a maestro of wide experience whose opening program includes works by Mozart, Dvorak and John Adams. (Sept. 29, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; single tickets available Sept. 3, $15-$65; 925-943-7469, www.californiasymphony.org.)

    Milestone: Led by Michael Morgan, the Oakland East Bay Symphony begins its 25th season with Verdi, Wagner, Copland and electronica-driven Mason Bates, the man with the beat. (Nov. 8, Paramount Theatre, single tickets available Oct. 1, $20-$70, 510-444-0801, at www.oebs.org.)

    Beginning her fifth season as music director of the Berkeley Symphony, Joana Carneiro shows why she is the Bay Area's most creative programmer. Her season opener includes a newly commissioned work, "The Ossicles" by UC Berkeley's Edmund Campion, plus Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, with exquisite soloist Alessio Bax. (Oct. 3, Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley; $15-$74; 510-841-2800 extension 1, www.berkeleysymphony.org.)

  • Peninsula and South Bay. Opera San Jose opens its season with Verdi's "Falstaff" at the California Theatre, introducing several new singers -- and bringing back baritone Scott Bearden, among the most powerful and charismatic artists ever to work with this company. He stars in the opening night cast. (Sept. 7-22, $51-$111, 415-437-4450, www.operasj.org.)

    Season 2 at Stanford University's Bing Concert Hall begins with a bang: Itzhak Perlman and the young virtuosos of the Perlman Music Program. (Sept. 22, $13-$75; 650-725-2787, http://live.stanford.edu.) Symphony Silicon Valley offers some intriguing programs this fall at the California Theatre, none more than this one: a matching of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 with William Kraft's super-charged Timpani Concerto No. 2, subtitled "The Grand Encounter." The soloist for the latter will be the brilliant timpanist David Herbert, who debuted this piece in 2005 with the San Francisco Symphony -- the orchestra he recently left to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. (Oct. 26-27, $41-$83; 408-286-2600 ext. 23, www.symphonysiliconvalley.org.)

  • Spectacle. Steven Schick, percussionist extraordinaire, has revitalized the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players as the group's artistic director, bringing new ambition and pizzazz to its programming. The season starts Oct. 26 and 27 at Crissy Field in San Francisco with composer Lisa Bielawa's "Airfield Broadcasts" project, described as a "massive, spatialized symphony involving more than 800 professional, student and amateur musicians, including orchestras, bands, and experimental new music groups." With SFCMP taking the lead, this should be a happening -- and it's free to the many music fans and unwitting park-goers expected to be there. There will be three performances and three live broadcasts of "Cissy Broadcast," a parallel event to the "Tempelhof Broadcast," which was staged in Berlin in May. (Information: www.sfcmp.org and www.airfieldbroadcasts.org.)

    Contact Richard Scheinin at 408-920-5069, read his stories and reviews at www.mercurynews.com/richard-scheinin and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/richardscheinin