First out of the gate, as usual, for the 2008-09 music season, the stellar chamber music group Camerata Pacifica plays its first program Friday and Sunday.

The program includes concerts at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday in the newly-renovated Hahn Hall on the Music Academy of the West campus in Montecito, and a matinee at 3 p.m. Sunday in Temple Beth Torah, Ventura.

The program consists of three works: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite Nº2 in B Minor, BWV 1067; Franz Josef Haydn’s Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, H XVI; and Antonin Dvorák’s Quintet for Piano and Strings in A Major, Opus 81 (the 1 p.m. lunchtime concert at Hahn Hall will omit the Bach).

The participating Camerata musicians are: Warren Jones (piano), Adrian Spence (flute), Catherine Leonard (violin), Tereza Stanislav (violin), Richard O’Neill (viola), Ani Aznavoorian (cello), Geoff Osika (double bass), and Patricia Goldstein (harpsichord).

Being by Bach and featuring the flute, the Suite No. 2 is naturally dear to Adrian Spence’s heart (he originally called his organization the “Bach Camerata”). Bach wrote four of these suites, which are usually called “orchestral” — you have to keep an open mind as to what number of musicians is the critical mass that makes an ensemble an “orchestra” — but only the Second and Third have lodged firmly in the permanent repertory.

The Second, with its gorgeous and stately fifth movement “Polanaise,” is far and away a favorite. One hopes, however, that the Camerata will get around to playing the Third, to give Leonard a chance to shine in the 2nd movement, “Air.” They are basically suites of dances, with an overture; eventually, Haydn turned such suites into the symphony.

Haydn’s keyboard sonatas seem written expressly to justify the adjective “exquisite.” They are not as profound as those of Beethoven, not as moodily charming as those of Mozart, yet they represent, as with so many of Haydn’s works, a graceful perfection of form. Most of them were written early in his career. Since he was not, primarily, a keyboardist, he may have lost interest in the form — though he did manage to write 51 of them. They are full of delicate melodies, sometimes ebullient, sometimes sweetly melancholy, but always engaging, never exhausting.

Dvorák’s Quintet for Piano and Strings is one of the greatest chamber works of the latter 19th century. For a long time, Dvorák was scarcely even considered a “great” composer at all, owing to the accident of his being born a Czech instead of a German, but fortunately, it has ever been audiences, not musicologists, who keep works on the programs. Dvorák’s place is now secure.

For tickets, visit, or call the Camerata at 805.884.8410.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.