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MUSIC REVIEW

Three Solid, Polished Soloists Make for One Fine Concert

July 02, 1996|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a rare local appearance, the California-based Pacific Trio played an inaugural concert in the elegant 350-seat hall at the recently opened Skirball Cultural Center in Sepulveda Pass on Sunday night. A benefit for the Congregation Ohr HaTorah, the event proved as impressive as its tasteful and lavish new surroundings.

Temperament and virtuosity are what set this authoritative ensemble--pianist Edith Orloff, violinist Endre Balogh and cellist John Walz--apart. Because all three players are soloists with considerable resources of technique and musicality, the only possible barrier to their success would be a lack of rapport with one another.

Within the opening bars of any work they play, such regard and interplay have been established. The conclusion: a piano trio that seems to have everything.

The Pacific's program of music by Czech composers on this occasion certainly tested its resources. In solid and polished performances, the players showed their mechanical, emotional and dynamic ranges. Most important, they exhibited the crowning virtue of chamber-music artistry, single-mindedness of outlook.

*

Dvorak's F-minor Trio at the beginning showed the breadth of the ensemble's accomplishment, the players' faultless meshing, easy articulation, clarified contrasts. At the end of the program, Smetana's emotionally loaded Opus 15 received its due, but without the confusion all that overstuffing might engender; instead, the three players let the piece unfold naturally, understandably.

In between, Martinu's eclectic modernism, derivative almost to the point of parody, raised the question: Was he kidding? Only the Pacific Trio's handsome, immaculate and in moments irresistible reading gave a resounding negative answer to the question.

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