Camerata’s Soaring Sonatas

October Concert, presented by Camerata Pacifica. At Lotte
UCSB’s Lehmann Concert Hall, Friday, October 20.

Reviewed by Charles Donelan

CamPac-3.jpgFor 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


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