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Gerald Carpenter: Camerata Pacifica to Feature French Repertoire

André Caplet, left, and his friend, Claude Debussy.
André Caplet, left, and his friend, Claude Debussy.

The chamber music group Camerata Pacifica will be playing this month’s program at 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall at the Music Academy of the West.

Cameratans Adrian Spence on flute, Bill Jackson on clarinet, Catherine Leonard on violin, Richard Yongjae O’Neill on viola, Ani Aznavoorian on cello, Tim Eckert on double bass, Bridget Kibbey on harp and Agnes Gottschewski on violin will be treating us to an apre-midi et soiree of French music.

They will perform Claude Debussy’s Danse sacrée et danse profane, André Caplet’s Conte fantastique for Harp and String Quartet, after Edgar Allan Poe?s Masque of the Red Death, André Jolivet’s Chant de Linos, for Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Harp (1944), Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp and Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro.

Those attending the 1 p.m. performance will hear only the Debussy and Ravel pieces.

Caplet (1878-1925) was born on a boat off the coast of Normandy. (It was not a yacht; his parents were not rich.) He showed early promise as a composer, winning the Prix de Rome when he was 22.

He was a composer of considerable charm and interest, but he is chiefly known today as the orchestrator of a number of works by Debussy. The association with Debussy did him a lot of good, of course, and opened a lot of doors, but he must have sometimes longed to shake off the clinging older man — whom he survived by only seven years.

Though he often writes for the same ensembles as Debussy, the results are much different — and, to my ear, far more interesting. The Conte fantastique is a very effective mood piece, another idiosyncratic French reading of dear Poe. (You can hear the clock tolling in the last room, almost see the red light flickering on the black drapery.)

The spirit of play, of wit, reigns in Caplet’s music; not so with Jolivet (1905-74). He took himself very seriously as a participant in French high culture, and his compositions usually reflect this sense of mission. Yet, for all their austerity and abstraction, his works are graceful and often quite beautiful.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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