Last month Camerata Pacifica patrons saw one of the largest gatherings of musicians (12) in the chamber group’s history, and enjoyed the volume, thick textures, and diverse timbres that come with bigness. For October, however, the Camerata lens clicked down several f-stops for an exclusive focus on piano and cello. Any pairing of Camerata principal players would guarantee a winning evening; however, the tenderness and savored silences evoked by cellist Ani Aznavoorian and pianist Warren Jones were especially appropriate for a concert dedicated to the memory of area choral legend Phyllis E. Zimmerman, who happened to pass away two days prior.
Begowned in pale mauve, Aznavoorian took the stage with a bright smile and eager energy and launched into a passionate rendering of George Crumb’s Sonata for Solo Cello (1955). The combination of abandon and assurance displayed by the cellist was wonderful. It is evident that deep familiarity has knitted the Sonata thoroughly into not only Aznavoorian’s fingers but also her heart. Her delicate attention to dynamics, articulation, and harmonics contributed to a dramatic narrative that felt like a meditation on life and death.
The core of this concert, however, consisted of two monuments of Romantic music, Chopin’s Sonata for Piano and Cello in G Minor (1846) and Brahms’s Sechs Klavierstücke (Six Piano Pieces), Op. 118 (1893). Curiously, Sonata was the last work Chopin saw published, even as Klavierstücke was the second to the last for Brahms. Aznavoorian and Jones knew the contours of the Chopin well, performing with balance and sensitivity a collaboration they clearly enjoyed. Jones mined the depths of the Brahms with a scholar’s marked introspection. In the end, he sat stock still for half a minute, as if slowly surfacing from another realm. The audience waited with him, and silence reigned.