Camerata Pacifica performs this month’s program in Santa Barbara at at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17, in Hahn Hall, at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road.
They play the same program at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in Rothenberg Hall of The Huntington Museum, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; and 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, in Zipper Hall of The Colburn School, 200 S Grand Ave., Los Angeles.
The concert, rather prosaically dubbed Beethoven, Nielsen & Dvorak, will consist of Ludwig Beethoven‘s “Octet for Winds in Eb-Major, Opus 103” (1792); Carl Nielsen‘s “Woodwind Quintet, Opus 43” (1922); Beethoven’s “Quintet for Oboe, Three Horns & Bassoon, Hess 19” (1793); and Antonín Dvořák‘s “Serenade for Winds in d-minor, Opus 44” (1879-89).
The musicians participating will be Jasmine Choi, flute; Nicholas Daniel and Claire Brazeau, oboes; Jose Franch-Ballester and Pascal Archer, clarinets; Judith Farmer and William Short, bassoons; William Wood, contrabassoon; Martin Owen, Steven Becknell and Amy Sanchez, horns; Ani Aznavoorian, cello; and Timothy Eckert, bass.
Despite its high Opus number, the Beethoven “Octet” is an early work, written when he was 22. Like the “Quintet,” which was probably written the following year, it is sometimes tongue-in-cheek; sometimes heart-on-sleeve; sometimes whistling-past-the-graveyard; always sweetly lyrical and totally coherent.
The preponderance of horns in the”Quintet” conjures scenes of hunting, or the posthorns on an 18th century coach. Beethoven was the greatest piano-player of his age, and I have seen contemporary sketches of him playing various stringed instruments, but there is no evidence that he learned to play any woodwinds.
Yet, as these two works attest, and young as he was, he was already a master of all the possibilities and limitations of each wind instrument.
Wind players have every reason to revere Carl Nielsen over his contemporaries. Not only did he write gorgeous concertos for the flute and the clarinet and pack his orchestral works with myriad beautiful solo passages for winds (think, for instance, of the arresting bassoon duet that states the main them of the “Symphony No. 5”), but he also left behind a mighty handful of indispensable chamber works for winds, particularly the “Serenata in Vano” for Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Cello and Double-Bass (1914) and this “Wind Quintet.”
The persistence of Dvořák’s music on our concert programs is not at all mysterious. Brahms was his hero, so his works are flawlessly constructed; Bohemia was his homeland, so his store of beautiful folk melodies is all but inexhaustible.
Admission to all venues is $58. For tickets and other information, show up at the box office, call the Camerata Pacifica, 805-884-8410, or email email@example.com.