The chamber music organization known as Camerata Pacifica will offer the Santa Barbara performances of this month’s program at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, at the Rockwood Woman’s Club, 670 Mission Canyon Road.
The program includes Thea Musgrave’s Narcissus for solo flute, Johannes Brahms’ Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano, Opus 100, and Ernest Chausson’s Quartet in A Major for Piano & Strings, Opus 30. At the 1 p.m. “Lunchtime Concert,” only the Musgrave and the Chausson will be heard, but all three works will be played at 8 p.m. The musicians participating are Adrian Spence, flute; Stefan Milenkovich, violin; Paul Coletti, viola; Ani Aznavoorian, cello; and Adam Neiman, piano. For tickets, the Camerata invites you to visit their Web site — cameratapacifica.org — or to call 805-884-8410.
Thea Musgrave, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1928, studied at Edinburgh University and then in Paris. She returned to Britain and wrote several operas in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, she relocated to the United States, mastering the serial techniques that were all the rage in American academia at the time, before moving on to evolve her own unique form of passionate lyricism. Even when she is not writing for the stage, her instincts are fundamentally dramatic. Narcissus is a kind of dramatic monologue for flute – which Adrian Spence, with his own histrionic gifts, should be able to make the most of.
Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) is one of those reticent figures who seem to abound in French music. He was a shy perfectionist, to an all but morbid degree, given to statements like “There are moments when I feel myself driven by a kind of feverish instinct, as if I had the presentiment of being unable to attain my goal or [attaining it] too late” and, speaking of one of his masterpieces — and one of his few well-known works — the Concerto for Piano, Violin and String Quartet, Opus 30, “Another failure.”
He had taste, talent, charm, intelligence, and money, and he spent his life sunk in nearly perpetual gloom. Fortunately for audiences, very little of his music reflects his depressive disposition.
A case in point, the Quartet in A Major for Piano and Strings, Opus 30, fairly bubbles over with graceful high spirits, and even the slower passages — marked très calme — are more tranquil than melancholy. Yet this charming work has languished in obscurity for more than a century — the only recording of it I possess was released on the label of the “Society for Forgotten Music” — and is only now coming more frequently to our attention. All praise to Adrian Spence and the Camerata for righting a long period of unjust neglect.