With so many musical anniversaries occurring this year, giving them all their due can be problematic.
Robert Duerr, founder and conductor of the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra, solved the problem neatly at the opening concert in a new season by his ensemble at Ambassador Auditorium on Monday night. He constructed a sampler of music by five composers whose anniversaries fall in this year.
In this sampler, Duerr led short pieces by Heinrich Schuetz (born 1585) and Alban Berg (born 1885) as well as works by the three most famous musicians born in 1685: Bach, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti.
The novelty here was Scarlatti's Serenata, "Contessa delle Stagioni" (The Contest of Seasons), which the composer produced in 1720, during the second year of his Portuguese sojourn. It is a joyful work, but not a startling one; it uses chorus, orchestra and four high-voiced soloists skillfully but without extraordinary inspiration.