Music Review

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Season starts with old, new works

By Juliet Schoen / Staff Writer

The St. Mathew’s Chamber Orchestra in Pacific Palisades started off its 23rd season, under conductor and director Thomas Neenan with an uplifting program of two classics and two world premieres. Mr. Neenan again offered insights into the offerings in his charming, off-hand way.

He introduced the final work of the evening by telling the audience to just sit and back and enjoy the sound. “Let the music flow over you,” he advised

This was indeed the perfect way to describe “Concerto for Tuba and Bass Trombone” by Ross Wright. These instruments rarely occupy center stage but here they were able to show their amazing compatibility. The music was enjoyable, although difficult to describe. The two instrumentalists, John van Houten (tuba) and Richard Bullock (trombone), rose to the occasion.

Other soloists were also featured on opening night at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. The “Wesendonck-Lieder” of Richard Wagner were beautifully rendered by the fine messo-soprano voice of Rose Beattie. Attired in a close-fitting pumpkin-colored gown, Beattie added a touch of glamour to the evening. She sang with a compelling attention to the gist of the poems.

David Angel was responsible for another world premiere with the orchestra presenting his “Three Swiss Scenes.” Phillip Feather was the soloist on the oboe d’amore, a baroque instrument with a delightful sound. This is a piece worth hearing again.

The program started with the well-known “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” by Brahms. This was a fine send-off for a very satisfactory evening.

The next concert will take place Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. with works by Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Wiren. St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, an architectural wonder, is a perfect venue for chamber music. It is located at 1031 Bienveneda Ave. in Pacific Palisades, off Sunset Boulevard. Tickets are $25 and parking is free!