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The Mozart Camerata’s Concert of Happy Endings : Music: The fortunate outcomes of three tales prompted the selections for the season’s final programs.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Thanks to a little foresight by Franz Joseph Haydn, innumerable scores he’d composed were saved from destruction when a fire broke out in 1779 at the Hungarian palace where Haydn served as court composer and conductor to the noble Esterhazy family.

“All the parts were burned to many symphonies and operas, including the Overture to (the opera) ‘La Vera Costanza,’ ” said Mozart Camerata music director Ami Porat, who will conduct the Overture on two concerts this weekend.

“Fortunately, Haydn kept duplicate sets of scores in his apartment, which was separate from the palace,” Porat said.

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The fortunate outcome prompted Porat to concoct a program of three works “connected by a number of symmetries” for the final programs of the current Camerata season, the conductor said.

“There is a happy-ending story with each work,” said Porat, who will also conduct Schubert’s Symphony No. 3 and, with soloist Sergiu Schwartz, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

“The third symphony of Schubert was completed in 1815 but wasn’t premiered for 66 years until 1881,” Porat said. “That’s another happy ending, certainly considering this work is a great masterpiece, despite the fact that he wrote it at age 17. It’s been mostly neglected.”

Porat finds another “happy ending” in Mendelssohn’s Concerto. “Mendelssohn was recovering in the summer of 1844 from a depression at a resort,” Porat said. “To sort of divert himself, he started writing what turned out to be one of the finest violin concerti in the repertoire.

“We cannot tie (his depression) to any particular event,” Porat added. “Mendelssohn was an extremely sensitive young man who was deeply affected by events around him. He was unhappy about many things.”

Although he is well known for his symphonies, Haydn is scarcely recognized as an opera composer. “His operas have been neglected for a long time,” Porat said. “However, in recent years, they have been re-evaluated and re-examined and a lot of treasures are surfacing. Certainly the overtures are wonderful.”

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From a later perspective, however, Haydn’s Overture to “La Vera Costanza” seems “very unusual” because “it is written in four different parts, which can be performed interchangeably,” Porat said.

Each section lasts between 2 1/2 and three minutes and each consists of “quotations from various sections of the opera,” Porat said. “It’s like a mini-puzzle.”

The Camerata played Schubert’s Fifth Symphony in 1988. Porat picked his Third Symphony for this concert, he said, “because (Symphonies) Four and Six require a bigger orchestra” than the Camerata’s 37 musicians.

“The last movement is a work of incredible challenge,” he said. “It has probably the only presto vivace (very fast and lively) marking in music. Exactly what do you with a presto vivace? It’s in six-eight (time) and it’s one long and energetic tarantella.”

In Mendelssohn’s Concerto, the soloist will be Sergiu Schwartz, a compatriot Romanian who appeared with the Camerata last season.

“Working with Schwartz is always a very rewarding musical experience,” Porat said. “We not only understand each other musically, but we have such similar backgrounds that we have more levels of communication between us than usual.”

Curiously, there is no work by the group’s namesake on the final concerts.

“We are a classical orchestra that performs a lot of Mozart but certainly not exclusively Mozart,” Porat said. “But it is quite possible that there will be a Mozart piece on the concert as an encore.”

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Ami Porat will lead the Mozart Camerata in a program of music by Hadyn, Schubert and Mendelssohn tonight at 8 at St. Andrew’s Church in Newport Beach and on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Violinist Sergiu Schwartz will be soloist. Tickets: $14 to $29 (St. Andrew’s); $19 to $44 (Irvine Barclay). Information: (714) 252-8808.

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