The second program also offered music of self-proclaimed Greek identity but of more recent vintage: Debussy's elegant, chaste Sacred and Profane Dances, Satie's Socrate and Stravinsky's Apollon Musagete - music of considerably cooler temperament - and Britten's remarkable cantata Phaedra, which does seem to take up where Monteverdi's passions left off. The Satie was the evening's curio, a half-hour setting of extended passages from Plato's writings about Socrates, bland vocal lines over an instrumental backing prevailingly gray. In his pre-concert chat Robert Winter advanced the suggestion that the work could be recast for the Three Tenors. That might, indeed, have helped, as the earnest work by Jacqueline Bobak, Lisa Popeil, Virginia Sublett and Kimball Wheeler did not. Jorge Mester led a small ensemble from his Pasadena Symphony throughout the evening; JoAnne Turovsky was the fine harpist in the Debussy, and Wheeler returned in the Britten work to endow the evening with its finest moments.
The Getty is admirably dedicated to musical presentations, both indoors and out. Shed a tear, however, for the setting in the elegant Inner Peristyle Garden of the once and (let us pray) future Getty out Malibu way. There you could feel the mingling of the arts. Now the music mingles with stone walls and the roar of I-405; it isn't quite the same.