MUSIC REVIEW : Mozart Camerata Completes Season at Santa Ana High

Music lovers who search for ensembles possessing a string sound of warmth and clarity and demonstrating admirable nuance ought to put the Mozart Camerata on a list of favorite groups.

At least this is the conclusion of one listener, after the chamber orchestra’s Saturday performance.

Opening the program with the Sinfonia in G, Opus 3, No. 6, by J. C. Bach, conductor Ami Porat revealed why the Santa Ana High School Auditorium is his venue of choice: The hall’s bright, resonant-yet-warm acoustics are perfectly matched to the group’s full-blooded sound.

No thin, wiry string ensemble this, but the maker of a sound that dispels the notion of a chamber orchestra as merely a small orchestra without enough players.


Cellist Nathaniel Rosen would appear to be a soloist suited to this orchestra like hand in glove, capable of seemingly endless nuances of phrasing and bowing. His collaboration in Francois Couperin’s “Pieces en Concert” proved a minor revelation. So temperamentally matched were leader and soloist that Porat not so much accompanied Rosen as simply welcomed him to the gathering.

The opening movement of Luigi Boccherini’s cello concerto in B-flat demonstrated that some human elements were in play, after all. Using the 19th-Century edition of Friedrich Grutzmacher (including that editor’s cadenza), allowed Rosen to adopt a Romantic approach perfectly suited to his strengths, but at odds with Porat’s Classical bent. At the beginning, Rosen consistently forged a hair ahead, at the ends of runs particularly. Porat maintained a cool head and firm hand, however. The prayer-like slow movement and vivacious finale had the principals back in concert, literally.

Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 gave Porat ample opportunity to demonstrate his special gifts for the podium. He is a conductor who knows how to escape the tyranny of beat patterns for the only justifiable reason: to give the music its own voice.

Porat’s encore arrangement of the Intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” showed that he and his group are no strangers to the late Romantic style, though one wished for stronger bass-playing.