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LOOK, MA, NO INSTRUMENTS: The Emerson String Quartet poses without the tools of its trade.

Classical Moves

By Michael S. Gant

The Emerson String Quartet The distinguished chamber ensemble devotes its Stanford Lively Arts appearance to the final three string quartets of Shostakovich. These inward-looking pieces reflect the composer's deep meditation on his own mortality. Wednesday (Oct. 15) at 8pm; Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford; $26–$46; 650.725.ARTS.

Symphony Silicon Valley Longtime valley emeritus conductor George Cleve joins the symphony as guest conductor for a roster of Mendelssohn (Violin Concerto), Beethoven (Symphony no. 1) and Debussy (La Mer). Christina Mok of the symphony will take center stage for the Mendelssohn concerto. Thursday (Oct. 16) at 7:30pm, Saturday (Oct. 18) at 8pm and Sunday (Oct. 19) at 2:30pm); California Theatre, 345 S. First St., San Jose; $39–$75; 408.286.2600.

San Francisco Symphony For one of its periodic walkabouts to the South Bay, the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Marek Janowski, performs a program of Beethoven (Egmont Overture and Piano Concerto no. 5) and Schumann (Symphony no. 2). Leon Fleisher, who, at 80, is steeped in the Beethoven repertoire, will be the featured soloist on the piano concerto. Friday (Oct. 17) at 8pm; Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino; tickets starts at $40; 415.864.6000.

Philharmonia Baroque The period-instrument champions wallow in various rearrangements of Bach: the Brandenburg Concerto no. 1, the Suite of Sinfonias and the Orchestral Suite no. 2 (with oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz). Paul Goodwin conducts. Friday (Oct. 17) at 8pm; First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto; $30–$75; 415.392.4400.

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra For an evening titled "From Russia With Love," Benjamin Simon leads the chamber orchestra through the playbook of Tchaikovsky, Arensky and Shostakovich. Principal cellist Aki Toyoshima, a senior at Monta Vista High School, will do the solo honors on Shostakovich's Cello Concerto no. 1. Saturday (Oct. 18) at 8pm; Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford; $6–$15; 650.856.3848.

California Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Dimension Perforating Arts presents a first-anniversary performance by the young classical group. Guest artist Melvin Chen, a precocious Juilliard grad will show off (there is no other word that will do for these prodigiously difficult pieces) on Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto no. 2; then, just to rub it in for everybody who can't master "Chopsticks," he will switch from the piano to the violin for Paganini's Violin Concerto no. 1. Sunday (Oct. 19) at 7:30pm; California Theatre, 345 S. First St., San Jose; $30–$50; 408.568.5861.

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