After spending 35 physically and mentally strenuous years working long hours at a singularly demanding, high-tension job, most folks would be thinking -- at least a little bit -- about retirement. And such folks would most likely show -- at least a little bit -- some of the physical and mental wear and tear of their years at on the job. But not vibrant, glamour-girl-beautiful concert violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Last year, the world-class soloist spent her 35th anniversary by performing dozens of concerts and recitals throughout the world as well as producing a 40-disc boxed set of recordings.

Anja FrersAnne-Sophie Mutter returns to the San Francisco Performances schedule for a violin recital in March.
Anja Frers Anne-Sophie Mutter returns to the San Francisco Performances schedule for a violin recital in March. ( Anja Frers )

San Francisco Performances has snagged this modern-day wonder woman to perform one of her typically virtuosic concerts at 8 p.m. March 4 at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. Her program will include Mozart's Sonata No. 27 in G major for violin and piano, Schubert's "Fantasie" in C major, Lutoslawski's Partita and Saint-Saens' Sonata for violin and piano in D minor. At the piano as her accompanist will be Lambert Orkis, legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich's accompanist for 11 years.


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Actually, the lady's working record really doesn't say much about her age. She simply bloomed early. Born in 1963 in Rheinfelden, Germany, she started music lessons at age 5 and progressed so rapidly that when she was only 13, the famed conductor Herbert von Karajan invited her to play with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Her playing dazzled fellow musicians and audiences alike; she made her official solo debut the very next year at the Salzburg Festival with the English Chamber Orchestra under conductor Daniel Barenboim. Her ongoing performances, prizes, awards and honors have now become too numerous to list.

Although she never performs with a shoulder rest under her chin like most violinists, and she often wears strapless gowns with her lush long brown hair loose about her shoulders, it's the astounding breadth of her repertoire that truly sets her apart from her peers. She moves with equal ease through music ranging from the Baroque on through the very latest contemporary works and has established a reputation for performing and/or commissioning new works. In addition to all this, she is the devoted mother of two children with her late first husband Detlef Wunderlich and was married for a time to conductor-composer Andre Previn, with whom she still occasionally collaborates.

Tickets to her Davies Hall concert range from $15 to $93 and are available at 415-392-4400 or www.cityboxoffice.com.

SUPERB STRINGS: The Brentano String Quartet, a chamber group The Times of London credits with "an almost unearthly level of perfection," is coming to terra firma in Berkeley with a Cal Performances-sponsored concert at 3 p.m. March 3 at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Named for Antonie Brentano, the lady some scholars propose as Beethoven's mysterious "Immortal Beloved," the group was founded in 1992. Within a few years, the Brentano won the Cleveland Quartet Award as well as prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award. The ensemble was honored in 1997 with the Royal Philharmonic Award for the most outstanding debut recital in the United Kingdom.

One of Brentano's unique qualities is its embrace of both very old and very new music -- including the madrigals of Gesualdo, fantasias of Purcell and secular vocal works of Josquin Des Prez on to brand new works by Gyorgy Kurtag, Charles Wuorinen, David Horne and more. All this and Beethoven, too!

The program scheduled for the Hertz Hall performance will be Haydn's Op. 33, No. 2 String Quartet, a group of Purcell's Fantasias, Bartok's Quartet No. 4 and Beethoven's Op. 74, No. 2 Quartet in E-flat major (the "Harp").

Tickets, $23 to $46, are at 510-642-9988 or tickets@calperfs.berkeley.edu.

THE LIVELY LEES: It doesn't often happen that three successful concert artists manage to emerge from one family. But The Lee Trio represents just that: three sisters, all of whom are brilliant performing musicians. Cellist Angela, violinist Lisa and pianist Melinda, all raised in the Bay Area, are performing concerts throughout the world, although they all now live in different cities, where they and their husbands are raising a total of six children. After having studied at public schools as well as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the eldest graduated from Yale, the middle sister from Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the youngest from Harvard.

This remarkable trio is reassembling during the month of March for several Bay Area concerts. The first will be at 8 p.m. March 5 at the historic Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. They will perform the world premiere of film composer Laurence Rosenthal's "Heptad" along with Janacek's String Quartet No. 1, "The Kreutzer Sonata," arranged for piano trio by Julian Yu, and Schubert's Piano Trio No. 2 in E-flat major.

Tickets may be purchased by mail from Berkeley Chamber Performances, 6166 Buena Vista Ave., Oakland, 94618, or at the door on the night of the concert, after 7:15 p.m. Ticket are $25, with students through high school admitted free, and college students with valid ID pay $12.50.

Contact Cheryl North at cherylnorth@hotmail.com.