Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 5:48 pm | Fair 69º


Camerata Pacifica Joins the Auerbach Juggernaut

Two performances will be offered Friday at Music Academy of The West.

Camerata Pacifica will perform this month’s program at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall on the Music Academy of the West campus. On the agenda are three works: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, K. 526;” Lera Auerbach’s “Sonata No. 1 For Violoncello and Piano Opus 69 (2002);” and Johannes Brahms’ “Trio in a minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Opus 114.” (The 1 p.m. “Lunchtime Concert” will omit the Auerbach). Camerata members performing these works will be Catherine Leonard, violin; Bil Jackson, clarinet; Ani Aznavoorian, cello; and Warren Jones, piano.

Lera Auerbach’s
Lera Auerbach’s “Cello Sonata” provides modernist punctuation for Camerata Pacifica’s program of classics.

“Dark, powerful and tragic” is how the Palm Beach Post described the four-movement, 12-minute “Cello Sonata” by the young Russian composer Auerbach. Others have found it “haunting” or “melancholy” or “a stimulating composition in every important sense.” While still in her teens, Auerbach — who is also a writer whose poems are taught in Russian schools, and who is a much sought-after virtuoso pianist — became one of the very last major artists to defect from the Soviet Union while there still was such a place. Auerbach was born in Chelyabinsk, a city in the Ural Mountains, at the western edge of Siberia. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she studied piano with Joseph Kalichstein and composition with Milton Babbitt and Robert Beaser. Auerbach is connected.

Her compositions are published by Hans Sikorski of Hamburg, who also prints Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Schnittke, and her works are commissioned and performed by a virtual who’s who of eminent contemporary ensembles and virtuosos.

The “Brahms Clarinet Trio” was written in 1891, one of four works inspired by the playing of, and written for, the principal clarinetist of the Meiningen Court Orchestra, Richard Mühlfeld. The Meiningen Orchestra had premiered Brahms’ “Fourth Symphony.” In March 1891, the composer stayed a week at the Meiningen court and asked Mühlfeld to perform privately for him. When he returned to Meiningen in November, Brahms presented Mühlfeld with the scores of both the “Clarinet Trio, Opus 114” and the “Quintet in b minor for Clarinet and Strings, Opus 115.” Brahms in chamber is, I think, Brahms at his best, and the “Clainet Trio” is one of those late chamber works whose formal perfection never gets in the way of its sublime beauty.

Mozart’s “Violin-Piano Sonata, K. 526” was also a comparatively late production; he was 31, and had composed his first work in the form when he was 6. Over the years, the relative importance to him of the violin and piano seems to have shifted dramatically in favor of the latter. This sonata has, indeed, been sometimes referred to as “a sonata for piano, with violin as an optional accompaniment,” but I’m sure that Leonard will find ways to redress the dynamic balance.

Click here for tickets to the concert, or call Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410 or 800.557.2224.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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