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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica Takes a Trip Through Time

By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk Contributing Writer |

Camerata Pacifica opens its 2014 schedule at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.

Elliott Carter
Elliott Carter, 1908-2012. (Meredith Heuer photo)

The program is pretty much all over the timescape, with Franz Joseph Haydn's Piano Trio No. 43 in C Major, Hob. XV: 27 (1797), Johannes Brahms' Quintet for Strings, No. 2 in G-Major, Opus 111 "Prater" (1890); Elliott Carter's Elegy for Viola & Piano (1943) and John Harbison's Piano Quintet (1981). Those attending the 1 p.m. concert will hear everything but the Brahms.

In various combinations, the program will be performed by Jonathan Moerschel on viola, Amy Schwartz Moretti on violin, Paul Huang on violin, Warren Jones as principal pianist and Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Chair in piano, Ani Aznavoorian as principal cellist and Richard Yongjae O’Neill and principal violist.

Haydn (1732-1809) wrote 45 piano trios. All of them are worth a listen, at least once, but more than half of them are unique master works. Charles Rosen calls Haydn's trios "along with the Mozart concertos the most brilliant piano works before Beethoven." This one is part of a set of three, written in 1797 and dedicated to Theresa Jansen (Bartolozzi). With two unrelated trios written in the same year, they are Haydn's last essays in the form.

Brahms (1833-97) wrote this quintet in 1890, convinced all the while that it would be his last work, that he was composed out and moribund. He was neither, though his health did take a turn for the worse a year or so later, and he lived only seven years after composing the quintet. For me, in any case, Brahms' chamber music is the real real Brahms, and this quintet is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

The Carter Elegy is certainly an appropriate in memoriam of the composer, who died in 2012, having lived a richly productive — and historically event-filled — 104 years. The piece exists in several versions (for cello and piano, string quartet, etc.). It was composed in 1943, and like most of the American music I have heard from that year, it is of a somber mood, with an undertow of defiance. Again: a very suitable hommage to the departed master.

I have not heard the Harbison yet, but I have heard with pleasure a wind quintet he wrote two years earlier. I do not number him among the contemporary composers (b. 1938) who never take me someplace I would like to go. Sometimes, I like where he takes me very much. I suspect the Piano Quintet is one of those times.

For tickets and other concert information, click here or call Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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