The music for this concert will explore the fecund border lands between the classical 18th century and the romantic 19th, and will include Wolfgang Mozart’s Duo in Bb-Major for Violin and Viola, K. 424, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio in G-Major for Violin, Viola, and Cello, Opus 9, No 1 and Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, D. 956. (Those attending the 1 p.m. “lunchtime” concert will hear only the Schubert piece.)
Michael Haydn, Joseph’s younger brother, had a commission for six violin-viola duos, but had only composed four when he “fell ill” (Mozart’s father often complained of Michael’s heavy drinking), so his friend Mozart stepped up and completed the set with two masterpieces, K. 423 and K. 424.
The latter feels more substantial than the former, but both give the viola an unusually prominent role. There are videos of K. 424 on YouTube, which star Richard O’Neill and a non-Camerata violinist. O’Neill is such a charismatic performer and his interpretation so commanding that you might think you were listening to a sonata for viola with violin continuo.
In ways I can only sense but not illustrate — not being a musicologist — the Beethoven work seems to make the Schubert work possible. Hindsight foreshortens, and we tend to think of Beethoven and Schubert as contemporaries, since they died only a year apart. But when Schubert was born, Beethoven was in his 27th year — old enough to be Schubert’s biological father as well as his musical one.
In the second movement adagio of the Schubert, I feel as if I have come to a musical space that no musician had visited before, a sound world with no apparent precedent. It is like a science fiction special effect, where a teeming city square suddenly freezes, and we have time to look around and consider our fellow creatures in detail. Or, as W.B. Yeats said:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death
Horseman, pass by.
For tickets and other concert information, call Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410 or click here.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.