October Concert, presented by Camerata Pacifica. At Lotte UCSB’s Lehmann Concert Hall, Friday, October 20.
Reviewed by Charles Donelan
For the most part this was another Camerata Pacifica exploration of the range of the classical/romantic repertoire, with a relatively brief but nevertheless substantial detour through the early 20th century via the Phantasy Quintet of Vaughan Williams. Haydn came first, with Adrian Spence and Ani Aznavoorian joining pianist Warren Jones for a lovely and introspective reading of the Trio for Piano, Flute, and Cello in G Major, Hob. XV, No. 15. Jones followed the trio with three pieces by Brahms written for solo piano: an intermezzo, a capriccio, and a rhapsody.
Principal violinist Catherine Leonard introduced the Mozart Sonata for Violin and Piano in E Minor, K. 304 with some intriguing information about the circumstances of the piece’s composition. Mozart was grieving the loss of his beloved mother when he wrote the second movement, and the plangent minor key registers this emotional content quite convincingly. Leonard and Jones sounded superb together in this very difficult work.
The second portion of the concert was divided between Vaughan Williams’s eerie and suggestive Phantasy Quintet and the Brahms Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major, Op. 78. For the quintet, Aznavoorian and Leonard were joined by Donald McInnes on viola, Julie Rogers on violin, and Aaron Oltman on viola. The piece has no traditional classical structure, relying instead on a series of dramatic exchanges between the violins and the violas, and culminating in a round-like recapitulation. The tone was wistful, if not elegiac.
The evening’s highlight was Jones and Leonard’s vigorous and soulful account of the Brahms sonata, which is a considerable work, and an exemplary instance of a sonata that has been opened out toward the form of the concerto. The playing was sure, the tone radiant, and the balance secure. Middle period Brahms appears to be the flavor of the moment, with Jennifer Frautschi’s fine performance at the Arlington with the Santa Barbara Symphony of the Concerto in D Major, Op. 77 just a couple of weeks ago, and Joshua Bell’s upcoming performance of the same piece in the same place with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Fortunately, the Camerata Pacifica exists to allow the adventurous listener an opportunity to explore more fully these persistently fascinating works of musical art.