Serendipity is the unexpected benefit from an unfortunate circumstance. Like losing one member of a string quartet to indisposition, but gaining in the process an unhackneyed and ear-opening program.
It happened Monday night, at the second event of the season by the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society. Arnold Steinhardt, first violinist of the Guarneri Quartet, is recuperating from elbow surgery and has sent his three colleagues on tour with pianist Steven DeGroote.
When the four players reached Laguna Beach High School Auditorium, DeGroote was given a weak, unbrilliant and dull piano to play. But that didn't ruin the concert.
The 34-year-old, prize-winning pianist from Johannesburg, South Africa, still produced handsome and charming sounds in Gabriel Faure's usually irresistible C-minor Piano Quartet. And his fellows--violinist John Dalley, violist Michael Tree and cellist David Soyer--made up in musical thrust, arching lines, emotional point and dynamic expansiveness what the unresonant piano lacked in presence, and what the capable DeGroote seemed to lack in personality.