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CAMA Goes for Baroque in Last Masterseries Concert

Australian Chamber Orchestra wraps up season with Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn and Rameau

The final concert of the Community Arts Music Association’s 2008-2009 Masterseries at the Lobero Theatre will star the Australian Chamber Orchestra; Richard Tognetti, artistic director and lead violin; and countertenor Andreas Scholl. It happens at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Lobero, 33 E. Canon Perdido.

Jean-Philippe Rameau had to rewrite his opera, 'Dardanus,' three times before it was a genuine hit.
Jean-Philippe Rameau had to rewrite his opera, Dardanus, three times before it was a genuine hit.

On the program are Antonio Vivaldi’s “Concerto Grosso Opus 3, No. 11,” operatic arias featuring Scholl, by G.F. Handel, Joseph Haydn’s “Symphony No. 44 in e minor,” “Trauer” and an “Orchestral Suite” from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s tragic opera, Dardanus.

A little over a month ago, CAMA brought the Academy Of Ancient Music to The Granada for a performance of all six of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Now, here is an ensemble of comparable size playing an equivalent program in the much smaller Lobero. What’s the difference? The Aussies aren’t playing Bach. Yet I would contend that Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn and Rameau are every bit as “great” as Bach, though perhaps — except for Haydn — not as “important” to musicologists. But none of the four is the focus of a cult as intense and totalitarian as that which surrounds Bach. Still, I venture to predict that those music lovers who attended both the Academy of Ancient Music and the Australian Chamber Orchestra concerts will find they had a much better time at the latter.

Then, too, I know a lot of singers, and several have told me they would rather sing Handel than anybody else.

In one of my favorite movies, Nicholas Meyer’s Company Business, Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikov sit in a Berlin nightclub, discussing vodkas. The Cold War is dissolving around them. For the past 20 years or more, each man has been a secret agent spying on the country of the other. Now each is almost certainly on his last mission. Hackman suggests ordering Stoli. “Have you ever had Starka?” asks Baryshnikov. “It couldn’t be better than Stoli,” says Hackman. “It isn’t better,” says the Russian, “I just prefer it.”

As with vodka, so with music. People hardly ever like a piece of music because they are supposed to, because it has been certified great by experts. They might say they like it, but that is not the same thing. There is more to the baroque than the Brandenburg Concertos or the B-minor Mass.

Click here to order tickets to the Australian Chamber Orchestra, or call the Lobero Theatre Box Office at 805.963.0761.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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