The first program of Camerata Pacifica’s new season was both pleasant and fervid, beginning with the former, Prokofiev’s Sonata for Flute and Piano in D Major, with artistic director Adrian Spence on flute. Evocative of the composer’s time in France, the piece is animated and at times humorous, packed with bright melodies that darted about Hahn Hall like comets.
Following the Prokofiev with a departure into the grotesque, John Harbison’s String Trio, first commissioned by Camerata in 2014 for cello, violin, and viola, presents every instrument as its own character, each dealing with a unique, unsettled refrain. Full of fractured themes and morose excerpts, the highlight of the piece is its “Molto moderato,” a pinnacle of emotional devastation that was played with stylish elegance by violin virtuoso Paul Huang, and Camerata’s principal violist and cellist, Richard O’Neill and Ani Aznavoorian, respectively.
The concluding composition, Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, has the immense sound of a major orchestral work, a remarkable feat for violin, cello, and piano. Beginning with the soft breath of the cello in a high register, the piece expands into a series of eerie, aggressive outbursts, with a prominent narrative from the cello, performed almost instinctually at the hands of Aznavoorian, leaving listeners truly speechless.