BAROQUE BRASS III Music Review
According to its website, “Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s mission is to enrich and connect our community through intimate and transformative musical experiences which exemplify and foster artistic excellence, education and innovation.” Based on its Jan. 17 Baroque Brass III performance at The Huntington, which included works by Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Scarlatti, Bach, etc., lucky listeners could add, to coin a term, “transport-ative” to LACO’s mission statement. In that the ensemble’s conservatory-trained players transport world weary audiences far from the workaday domain of routine daily existence, with all its cares and woes, to a more serendipitous, sonorous higher realm of bliss.
The ensemble’s conservatory-trained players transport world weary audiences far from the workaday domain of routine daily existence, with all its cares and woes, to a more serendipitous, sonorous higher realm of bliss.
The evening opened with a quartet enticing German composer Johann Melchior Molter’s serene 1696 “Symphony in C Major” out of their brass instruments, setting the stage, so to speak, of a tranquil night with an exceedingly peaceful six minutes. The four musicians - three men, one woman - clad in elegant black outfits, played horns and trumpets, issuing a clarion call for calm in our whirligig, troubled country.
The ensemble changed things up for George Frideric Handel’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine,” adding soloist Elissa Johnston, whose soprano voice complemented the trumpet. Alto Jessie Shulman took the stage to perform with Johnston a duet for voices of the third movement of Henry Purcell’s ode “Sound the Trumpet.” Johnston went on to perform a solo aria, singing Alessandro Scarlatti’s “Mio Tesoro Per Te Moro.” Mezzo soprano Shulman sang the aria “Va Tacito” from the “Julius Caesar” opera by Handel, which was originally rendered by castrato. (Talk about suffering for one’s art!)
Throughout the evening, the all-brass team was also joined by Principal Keyboard artist Patricia Mabee, who enhanced the evening’s “Part of Baroque Conversations” by tickling the ivories of a harpsichord that looked as if it had once held forth in the chamber of a 17th century Viennese castle, Venetian palace or French chateau. Mike Magatagan arranged Bach’s instrumental “Fugue in B Minor” to be played by a brass quartet.
The chamber music performers included LACO’s Principal Trumpet and co-leader, David Washburn, who has played on the soundtracks of blockbusters including Godzilla, Avatar, and the Star Wars and Spider-Man film franchises - which could help explain why this concert was so super. Co-leader Michael Thornton was Principal Horn, with Jaime Martín as LACO’s Music Director.
Each angelically delivered piece was short and, including an intermission, the entire performance was just about 90 minutes. The 374-seat Rothenberg Hall at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens offered exquisite acoustics and was nearly entirely sold out. The Rothenberg’s lobby features colorful, delightful tapestries by Alexander Caldwell. Overall, via this all too brief excursion to Valhalla, a splendiferous time was had by all - if, alas, only momentarily.
Upcoming Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra performances include:
In Focus:Beethoven + Strauss
Thursday, February 20, 2020, 7:30 pm, First Presbyterian of Santa Monica, 1220 Second Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Friday, February 21, 2020, 7:30 pm, Rothenberg Hall, The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.
STRAUSS “Metamorphosen” for String Septet (arr. Rudolf Leopold),
BEETHOVEN “Septet for Winds and Strings”.
Margaret Batjer, curator
Recommended for You
Carrie Kennedy, violin
Joel Pargman, violin
Erik Rynearson, viola
Sharon Wei, viola
Andrew Shulman, cello
Trevor Handy, cello
Giovanna Moraga Clayton, cello
Peter Lloyd, bass
Kenneth Munday, bassoon
Dylan Hart, horn
For more info see: https://www.laco.org/.
L.A.-based reviewer/historian Ed Rampell co-authored “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book”: https://mutualpublishing.com/product/the-hawaii-movie-and-television-book/ .