If the Mozart Camerata were blessed with a much-needed acoustical shell for its sound, a more glamorous image for its conductor and a setting in a more fashionable neighborhood for its audience, Ami Porat's Classical-size ensemble--currently operating with about three dozen members--could be the upscale chamber orchestra of Orange County.
At the opening of its 1988-89 season, Saturday night in the auditorium at Santa Ana High School, the group displayed all the ingredients: an accomplished roster of first-rate players; a sense of community, ensemble and single-mindedness in the currently constituted orchestra, a bold and clever conductor.
Moreover, before a note was played, one had to admire the braininess of Porat's program, works by four 18th-Century contemporaries who on one occasion played quartets together: Dittersdorf, Mozart, Wanhal and Haydn.
More important, the agenda worked as a sound experience. A charming, almost bucolic Allegro for strings by Dittersdorf, despite its sharp-key setting, set up the more familiar aggressions in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for violin and viola. After intermission, Wanhal's breezy Sinfonia in A minor introduced Hadyn's deceptively easygoing 44th Symphony of Haydn.