Tafelmusik Puts Classical Period in Context

The Classical era was one of amazingly prolific production from many composers. There is a difference, of course, between facility and genius, which was at least one point made by Tafelmusik, Friday at Marsee Auditorium of El Camino College, with an engaging program of works composed around 1770.

Pieces such as Johann Baptist Vanhal's amiably underwhelming Symphony in B-flat provide valuable context for a work of concise power and originality such as Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 49 in F minor, "La Passione." Tafelmusik gave both the benefits of well-drilled and affectionate performances, excepting the noble but unsuccessful struggles with valveless horns in the Trio sections of both minuets. Led by principal violinist Jeanne Lamon, the Canadian period-instrument band delivered suave, flexible sound within a tight rhythmic framework.

Lamon's agenda also offered solo opportunities for some of her colleagues. Lean in tone but eminently musical, Christina Mahler generally coped fluently with the high-flying passage work of Luigi Boccherini's Cello Concerto in D, G. 479. Violinist Linda Melsted and violist Elly Winer matched phrasing and contrasted deportment through Carl Stamitz' prolix Symphonie Concertante in D.

Tafelmusik opened with an engaging novelty: the quite Italianate "Sinfonia para pequen~a orquesta" by the otherwise unknown Antonio Serrier, a piece discovered in the papers of a Mexican music conservatory and possibly the first symphony composed in the Americas.

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