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Gerald Carpenter: Three Makes a Multitude for Camerata Pacifica

Mitchell
Violinist Priya Mitchell will perform with Camerata Pacifica at Hahn Hall.

Camerata Pacifica plays its April program at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hahn Hall on the Music Academy of the West's main campus.

The short list of participating Cameratans includes Priya Mitchell on violin, Martin Owen on horn and the stellar mage Warren Jones on piano.

They will be performing James MacMillan's Kiss on Wood for Violin and Piano (1993), Johannes Brahms' Violin-Piano Sonata No. 2 in A-Major, Opus 100 (1886), Franz Liszt's famous piano trascription of the "Liebestod" from Richard Wagner's opera Tritan und Isolde (1865); and Brahms' Horn Trio in Eb-Major, Opus 40. (Those attending the 1 p.m. performance will hear just the Wagner and the Brahms trio — a pairing neither composer would be comfortable with.)

MacMillan's piece is stark, passionate and completely spellbinding. There is no waste. Each theme is stated with intensity and precision — we look where it points; we follow where it leads.

When I say "stark," I mean it in the original sense of "strong." MacMillan is not interested in playing Shock the Bourgeois. There is nothing "abstract" or "theoretical" about his music. It is clearly about something, though what it is about depends almost entirely on the listener.

Wagner is at his most palatable in the Liszt transcriptions. The "Liebestod," particularly, benefits from the absence of lugubrious strings. Liszt, of course, was instrumental in Wagner getting his big breaks, he preserves all that his best in Wagner in a compact, almost digital, format. Liszt's original work is only sporadically great; his transcriptions are always transcendent.

Admission to these concerts is $45. For tickets and other information, call Camerata Pacifica at 805.884.8410 or email [email protected].

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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