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Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica Gets Back to Basics

Its members will join clarinetist José Franch-Ballester on Friday for some major Mozart

Camerata Pacifica’s February slate will come to town at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall on the Music Academy of the West campus.

Cellist Ani Aznavoorian will team up with her fellow Camerata Pacifica comrades for two local performances Friday
Cellist Ani Aznavoorian will team up with her fellow Camerata Pacifica comrades for two local performances Friday.

Camerata Pacifica core members Warren Jones (piano), Catherine Leonard (violin), Richard Yongjae O’Neill (viola) and Ani Aznavoorian (cello) will join clarinetist José Franch-Ballester for a program of Mozart and Brahms.

Specifically, they will play Mozart’s Divertimento in E-Flat Major for Violin, Viola and Cello, K. 563, and Brahms’ Three Intermezzi for Solo Piano, Opus 117 and his Sonata in F-Minor for Clarinet and Piano, Opus 120, No. 1. Those attending the 1 p.m., or “lunchtime,” concert will find only Mozart on the menu.

Despite its diverting title, the Mozart piece is an important work, and something of a curio. He wrote it in September 1788, and it premiered the following April, with Mozart himself taking the viola part. He hadn’t called anything a “divertimento” for 11 years and, except for a fragment of a String Trio in G-Major written in the same month, had never composed for the violin-viola-cello combination before, and never would again (in contrast with his seven string quintets and 26 string quartets).

It is in six movements (Allegro, Adagio, Minuet, Andante, Minuet and Allegro). Most ensembles bring the performance in at 41 to 42 minutes, though some have been known to stretch it as far as 50 minutes. It is, for its length and wealth of ideas, a thoroughly charming work.

Both the Intermezzi and the Clarinet-Piano Sonata are late works, written when Brahms was an old man. The Intermezzi are meditative and gorgeous, representing a sweet midpoint between the music of Chopin and Scriabin.

Although Brahms published popular arrangements for viola-piano and violin-piano, the Clarinet Sonatas Nos. 1 and 2, Opus 120 were written specifically for the clarinet, in 1894, for clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld, whose sprightly interpretations had awakened Brahms’ creative urge at a time when he had just about stopped writing music. So, I guess we music lovers owe Mühlfeld a great deal.

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

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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