Power of Five

Camerata Pacifica. At Music Academy of the West’s Lotte Lehmann
Hall, Friday, January 12.

Reviewed by Charles Donelan

Written for violin and piano, the piece is a superb example of
the genuine and significant impact of the theater of the absurd,
dada, and surrealism on composition. “Klangwölfe” is played so
quietly that it frequently lingers on the threshold of the audible.
The piano lid is completely closed, and the violin is muted. The
score explores some radically unconventional territory for the
bow — very close to the bridge, or else far up the
fingerboard — and it specifies that the violinist remain seated,
which goes against the norm for sonatas. The piece ends on a
massive rest, injecting absurdity even into the method of its

CamPac1.jpgFor fans of avant-garde music, this
performance was a rare treat. The sensuous intensity generated by
Frautschi’s extraordinary control of the bow in the service of
Kagel’s otherworldly harmonics was truly memorable. Thanks to
Spence for reminding all of us that the new music is not
necessarily growing old, as Adorno feared, and that the capacity of
classical music to produce a sense of wonder remains profound.

The other piece on the first half of the program was a Benjamin
Britten cello sonata that gave Warren Jones the opportunity to work
with Emil Miland, who brought great passion and vitality to the
piece. After the intermission, there was nearly an hour’s worth of
late Schubert: the String Quintet in C Major, Op. Post. 163, played
by Frautschi and Miland, joined by Sara Parkins, violin, Donald
McInnes, viola, and Ani Aznavoorian on a second cello. The work
itself is unusual — the ordinary string quintet formula involves an
additional viola, rather than a second cello — yet full of
Schubert’s most satisfying and fully realized writing. The
performers were more than adequate to the task, and the result was
sparkling and enchanting. The audience response was just as
remarkable: a standing ovation that included a decidedly
un-classical component of whoops and hollers.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.