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Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 9:23 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 

CAMA Wraps Up Season with Seattle Symphony

Wednesday's performance pays tribute to Richard I, Richard II, and Samuel the Only.

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra — conducted by music director Gerard Schwarz and with the sublime, enigmatic Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as violin soloist — will headline the last subscription concert of the Community Arts Music Association‘s 2007-08 season. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Arlington Theatre.

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The CAMA program will consist of three Excerpts from Act III of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner, the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 14, by Samuel Barber, and two pieces by Richard Strauss, his tone poem, Don Juan, Opus 20 and the Suite from his most popular opera, Der Rosenkavalier, Opus 59.

Since few who will attend this concert will be hearing any of these works — even the Barber — for the first time, it will not be necessary to attempt to describe or characterize the music. It is all romantic, romantic times ten, and it is music like this that used to make going to a classical music concert such a thrilling experience.

The set-up for Die Meistersinger — a singing contest — is almost as corny and obvious as the fourth act of Die Fledermaus. In spite of that — or, rather, because of it — Die Meistersinger has enjoyed an enduring popularity. It is nearly the odd man out, being a lyric comedy, among Wagner’s operas that Ah, Wilderness! is among the plays of Eugene O’Neill. Even anti-Wagnerians tend to like it.

Barber’s Violin Concerto is the greatest concerted work yet penned by an American. It was commissioned by a wealthy Philadelphian for a protégé, but when it was completed, the young violinist whined that the first and second movements were not sufficiently bravura, and that the last movement was unplayable. Seldom has immortality been more petulantly flung away.

The mood of the concerto is somber and wistful, a melancholy lament for the Europe that was once again (1939) about to attempt suicide. It is a haunting, gorgeous work, and you may be sure that Salerno-Sonnenberg will make the most of it. Pay particular attention to the second movement, with the haunting main theme first stated by the oboe, then taken up sadly, almost reluctantly, by the violin. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a masterpiece.

There is, finally, something almost indecent about Richard Strauss’ skill at orchestral scoring. When he was still in his teens, he was helping Wagner rework the horn call in Siegfried. He was called "Richard II," since he was so obviously carrying on the music drama by Wagner’s rules. His music is voluptuous to a degree, tuneful and mesmerizing. There is virtually no musical or dramatic effect that is beyond his powers. Call it decadent if you will, but if you think his music should be kept out of the concert halls and off the opera stages, you might as well close them down and padlock the doors. His music is as close as most people get to ecstasy, and there is no downside.

Tickets range from $35 to $75. Click here to order online or contact the Arlington Theatre Ticket Agency, 1317 State St., at 805.963.4408.

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