Camerata Pacifica Performs Schumann

Romantic Music Prevails for Season Finale Concert

Catherine Leonard, Warren Jones, Ani Aznavoorian, and Richard Yongjae O'Neill performing Schumann's <em>Quartet in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 47</em>.
David Bazemore

For this final concert of the season, the Camerata Pacifica core ensemble came together for an imaginative program that linked the kindred sonorities of Richard O’Neill’s viola and Adrian Spence’s flute to the Romantic sonata form and beyond. Spence opened the evening by recalling the organization’s mission through a quotation from the 20th-century composer Henry Cowell about “music’s power to penetrate to the basic fineness in every human being.” The sentiment made an ideal introduction to the initial piece, the Duo for Flute and Viola in C Minor, Op. 5, No. 3 from “the French Mozart,” François Devienne. This combination of instruments neatly fit the mood of Devienne’s composition, which explores their related timbres in a sparkling, classical vein. The players established a deep rapport immediately, thus setting a standard of profound listening and sensitive interplay that was maintained for the rest of the concert.

Warren Jones came to the stage next and joined Spence for the Sonata for Flute and Piano, “Undine,” Op. 167 of Carl Reinecke. Spence retold the story of Undine the water sprite at some length before embarking on the music, but somehow he managed to keep it light and refreshing, bringing smiles to the audience as he recounted the tragic fate of these ill-fated lovers. The music was captivating, and the audience heard why Warren Jones was named “Collaborative Pianist of the Year” for 2010 by Musical America. The additional context provided by Spence’s recounting of the myth proved useful, as the music revealed a water-like interplay of surface and depth that recalled Undine’s origins.

Richard Yongjae O’Neill lives up to one’s expectations of a virtuoso. Supremely confident onstage, he keeps even the most intricate pieces soaring skyward on the wings of faultless technique. His showcase on Friday came in the Phantasy in F Major for Viola and Piano, Op. 54 of York Bowen. Bowen, a British composer active for the entire first half of the 20th century, wrote in the late-Romantic style of Rachmaninoff, and this Phantasy gave both O’Neill and Warren Jones ample opportunity to flourish in long, gorgeous passages of melodic invention.

The Quartet in E-flat Major for Piano and Strings, Op. 47 of Robert Schumann was the evening’s centerpiece and high point, bringing together Jones and O’Neill with violinist Catherine Leonard and cellist Ani Aznavoorian. The percussive piano lines and pulsating rhythmic complexity of this composition provided the perfect point of departure for some exuberant end-of-the-season fireworks from these talented musicians, and the warm standing ovation they received for their efforts was thoroughly deserved.


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