The March program of Camerata Pacifica showcases the Camerata’s stellar wind players. Or, as their artistic director, Adrian Spence, puts it: “A particular distinction for Camerata Pacifica is the amazing wind players of our ensemble, and this program highlights their virtuosity, innate musicianship, and very individual characters.”
The personnel of these concerts is a typical Camerata collection of virtuosos, both stalwarts and newcomers, including:
British oboist Nick Daniel, Spanish clarinetist Jose Franch-Ballester, and Korean flutist Jasmine Choi; plus three performers making their first Camerata Pacifica appearances in these events: American pianist Henry Kramer (a 2019 recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant), British horn player Benjamin Goldscheider, and bassoonist Kathleen McLean (scion of the Indiana University School of Music).
The March program contains the second movement “Andante” from Edouard Destenay‘s “Trio in b-minor for Piano, Oboe and Clarinet, Opus 27” (1906); Carl Reinecke‘s “Trio in a-minor for Piano, Oboe and Horn, Opus 188” (1886); Camille Saint-Saëns‘ “Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso, Opus 28 (1863),” arranged by Jasmine Choi; and John Harbison‘s “Wind Quintet” (1979).
The Destenay and Reinecke, though scarcely well-known, will cause no problems for most music lovers, inhabiting as they do the comfortable soundscape of late twentieth century romanticism, the winds adding a touch of sinuous exoticism.
It will be interesting to hear what Choi makes of the Saint-Saëns, which is surely familiar to most attendees in its original incarnation as a virtuoso showcase for violin and orchestra.
I might add that the composer, while himself a virtuoso pianist who composed five piano concertos, and who wrote many concerted and/or chamber works for strings, did not entirely neglect the woodwinds.
There is the delightful “Caprice on Danish and Russian Airs for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet and Piano, Opus 79” (1887), and the exquisite trio of solo wind and piano sonatas (bassoon, clarinet, oboe) that were among his last compositions.
If you play any instrument, you have cause to be grateful to Camille Saint-Saëns.
The Harbison Quintet takes a bit more listening, like all new music, for all that it amply rewards any attention paid to it. Harbison is a major American composer, and clearly a favorite of the Camerata.
He is also one of those rare composers who can talk about his art without losing himself in metaphysics or theory. His “artistic credo,” he said, in 1990, was “to make each piece different from the others, to find clear, fresh large designs, to reinvent traditions”.
Camerata Pacifica performs this program in Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25, in Hahn Hall, at the Music Academy of the West, 1070 Fairway Road. They also perform it at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 20 in the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St., Ventura; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 in Rothenberg Hall of The Huntington Museum in San Marino, 1151 Oxford Road; and 8 p.m. Thursday, March 24 in Zipper Hall of The Colburn School in Los Angeles, 200 S. Grand Ave.
Admission to all venues is $68. For tickets and other information, show up at the box office, call the Camerata Pacifica, 805-884-8410, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Camerata Pacifica requires masks as well as proof of COVID vaccination and booster for attendance at concerts.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.