Review: Romanticism and Ferocity

Camerata Pacifica plays the Pasadena Civic.

By CHRISTIAN ARAYA, Contributing Writer
Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014 | 3:26 PM

Camerata Pacifica’s January 14 performance at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium consisted of fine veneer-like works from Haydn, Brahms, Elliot Carter, and John Harbison.

Haydn’s Piano trio No. 43 in C Major, Hob. XV: 27, 1. Allegro began the trickling effects of auditory synesthesia. The mezzo piano arpeggios, reverberating diminuendos, and tantalizing crescendos evoked woodland scenery with picaresque creatures frolicking and being mischievous. All of the Trio’s movements expressed a candor of string and piano virtuosity, but it wasn’t until the third that the violin’s voice paralleled that of the piano, as the cello resonated in between both to channel both themes.

Camerata Pacifica at the Pasadena Civic Green Room.

Brahms’ Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 captured the candid twinkling of the night’s sentiment. The splendor of the cello’s theme is as moving as it is touching; as it fights with four voices–two violins and two violas. The ferocity of its willingness to survive amidst stringed chaos is what makes the theme so powerful.

Romanticism pours out like a blossoming orchid in the second, third, and fourth movements. The second introduced a somber mood and viola cadenza, while the third carried a swaying theme reminiscent of Philip Glass’s The Hours movie soundtrack.

The second half of the program opened with Elliott Carter’s Elegy for Viola & Piano,  and ended with John Harbison’s Piano Quintet.

You can hear aural similarities between Brahms and Harbison, but the latter’s quintet suggests a lot more space. This 20th century dedication to the painter Georgia O’Keefe’s abstract sound channels compositions made famous and pioneered by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg.

The collection’s grandeur of fine performances was like watching a cherry blossom branches sway back and forth on a breezy day.

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