Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 12:10 am | Fair 49º


Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica Mixes Russians and Royalty

Chamber ensemble will perform its March program in a double bill on Friday

The all-star chamber ensemble Camerata Pacifica will play its March program at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.

Composer Alexander Scriabin
Composer Alexander Scriabin

Camerata members Adrian Spence on flute, Adam Neiman on piano, Catherine Leonard on violin and Ani Aznavoorian on cello will participate.

The concert will consist of Alexander Scriabin’s Sonata for Piano No 2 in G-Minor, Opus 19, the “Sonata fantasy”; Sergei Prokofiev’s Five Melodies for Violin and Piano, Opus 35bis, plus his Sonata in D-Major for Flute and Piano, Opus 94; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Trio No. 7 in Bb-Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 97, the “Archduke.”

Many of Scriabin’s earlier works, like this sonata, represent an attractive fusion of Slavic romanticism with French impressionism. Many of his later works represent a not-so-attractive confusion of true creative force with all-consuming ego-mania.

Prokofiev, too, was subject to considerable French influence, and much of the lovely Flute Sonata could almost have been written by Francis Poulenc (at least, as Jean-Pierre Rampal plays it on the recording I have). He wrote it (1942-43) while he was trying to finish up his opera War and Peace, scoring Sergei Eisenstein’s epic Ivan the Terrible, and doing his best to keep a few steps ahead of the invading Nazis. The scherzo is a little hectic, but most of the piece evokes much more tranquil times.

As for the Five Melodies, I know nothing about them. As an ardent fan of the composer, I have managed to hear most of his works, even the fairly obscure ones, but these pieces have, up to now, eluded my ears altogether. (The “bis” after the opus number means that by the time the pieces were shoehorned into his catalog, there was already an Opus 36 and no proper place to put the Five Melodies except between 35 and 36.)

Beethoven’s “Archduke” Trio has in common with his “Emperor” Concerto the fact that both were dedicated to his friend and patron, Archduke Rudolph of Austria, a fine amateur pianist (“I’m a duke by profession,” David Niven tells Sophia Loren in Lady L. “That makes me an amateur at everything else.”). But the trio acquired its nickname from its dedicatee — it was in common use while Beethoven was alive — whereas the concerto was arbitrarily dubbed the “Emperor” by its English publisher, without Beethoven’s advice or consent.

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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