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Camerata Pacifica: Two Worlds

CASA Magazine
By Daniel Kepl
November 1, 2013

Camerata Pacifica: Two Worlds

Pianist/composer Lera Auerbach and cellist Ani Anzavoorian have been working a successful gig together of late, performing Auerbach’s 24 Preludes for Violoncello and Piano, Op. 47 (1999) with Hamburg State Ballet, music for choreographer John Neumeier’s Preludes CV. Last Friday’s Camerata Pacifica recital at Hahn Hall featured this haunting journey through the 24 pitches of western tonality as the single work on the first half of the program. After intermission, Mozart’s Divertimento in E-Flat Major, K. 563 introduced guest artist Amy Schwartz Moretti violin, joined by Aznavoorian, and Camerata regular, violist Richard-Yongjae O’Neill.

Auerbach’s brilliant and informative opening remarks explained some, if not all of the backstory and subtexts of her 24 Preludes: a memory of her youth in the waning years of the Iron Curtain. She is in good company (Bach) with her series of compositions that traverse the 24 pitches of western music’s tonal spectrum. The set of preludes heard Friday is Auerbach’s third. The first, in Bach’s shadow, is for piano, the second for violin and piano. All three are inspired.

Auerbach is a sensitive and intuitive musician. Her color choices and other special compositional effects for the cello, reveal a deep understanding of the instrument. And it’s always a treat to watch the composer at the keyboard, in electric collaboration with cellist Ani Aznavoorian. Needless to say, the duo’s impeccable playing of a work they know so intimately, is a celebration of sound. The 24 major and minor key areas in which Auerbach paints her vivid, moody scenes, is a journey that can be a little bipolar: one prelude whimsical, another morose, some are parodies, others seem paradox. The dynamic spectrum reaches outright agony in the more intense preludes, while other episodes speak in whispers. The work will have a long life in the cello/piano repertory.

Violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti was introduced to the audience by Artistic Director Adrian Spence, then promptly turned in a solid performance of Mozart’s E-Flat Divertimento, K. 563. Composed for violin, viola, and cello, Moretti was joined by violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill and cellist Aznavoorian in a particularly elegant performance of the six- movement work. Moretti’s violin timbre is expressed in soft, honey-toned virtuosity. With O’Neill’s grace, and Aznavoorian’s finesse, the three sang.