MUSIC REVIEW : Amoyal, Smith at Chamber Music/LA

The Chamber Music/LA concert in the Japan America Theatre on Thursday was built around the talents of Pierre Amoyal, the French violinist who studied with Jascha Heifetz--to whose memory the current festival is dedicated--during the early 1970s.

While lamenting the fact that Amoyal’s showcase offering, the Franck Sonata in A, is played with such frequency hereabouts that listening to it has come to seem more like comparison shopping than a musical experience, one had nonetheless to admire the violinist’s big, darkly vibrant tone and effortless technique.

Comparison with the master would be odious, but it might be noted that, like Heifetz, Amoyal’s noncommittal, even glum, physical demeanor hardly jibes with the passionately intense sounds emitted by his instrument. Like Heifetz, he does not express the music with his face.


The ripe, experienced collaboration of pianist Brooks Smith was somewhat compromised by his muddy passage work in the most agitated moments of the Franck but proved indispensable in making something pianistic of the reduction of the orchestral part in Chausson’s “Poeme,” which Amoyal projected with blazing fervor.

Amoyal and Smith were, finally, joined by violist Marcus Thompson and cellist Jeffrey Solow in a blisteringly paced, occasionally disheveled but hugely enjoyable romp through the Brahms G-minor Piano Quartet.