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MUSIC REVIEW : Mozart Camerata Plays Schubert, Mendelssohn, Haydn

May 20, 1991|SUSAN BLISS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEWPORT BEACH — Mendelssohn's E-minor violin concerto may have provided the centerpiece of the Mozart Camerata's program Saturday night at St. Andrew's Church, but Schubert's Symphony No. 3 emerged as the gem.

Closing the final concert of the Camerata's 1990-91 season, the symphony underscored the strengths on which music director Ami Porat has built his orchestra's reputation--precision, balance, and the ability to communicate an idea. These qualities made for a fresh, joyful reading of the youthful work (written when Schubert was 17).

Clarinetist Jim Foschia contributed a bucolic lyricism to the Allegretto while the duet by oboist Cheryl Foster and bassoonist Charles Koster embodied the gentle Landler quality of the Minuet (not listed in the printed program).

The soloist in Mendelssohn's concerto was violinist Sergiu Schwartz, whose virtuosity appeared so comfortably secure that even the whirlwind passages of the final movement--which left the orchestra scrambling to keep up--seemed not to pose a risk. Unfortunately, risk taking (or at least the illusion of it) can inflame a performance. Schwartz may not have brought hair-raising excitement to the piece.

Still, he did offer an intelligent, involved interpretation that avoided maudlin sweetness. Particularly in the Andante, his straightforward approach, warm tone and impeccable intonation created a simple, affecting experience.

Haydn's Overture to "La Vera Costanza" lent a light, clean opening to the concert. In this very resonant and, on this occasion, chilly hall, upper strings took a few minutes to warm up, as a few instances of questionable intonation seemed to evidence. Apparently, so did the audience for, at the end of the overture, an expectant hush reigned until Porat finally indicated that the piece had, indeed, ended.

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