Music Reviews : Golabek, Friends Open Romantic Series at UCLA

Pianist Mona Golabek endeavored to combine the best qualities of a music history lecture with those of an informal musical soiree in opening her chamber music series, “The Outrageous Romantics,” at UCLA, Friday. She implored her listeners to imagine themselves in a Paris salon, circa 1830, in the company of the great artists of the day.

To that end, the evening was but a partial success, for several factors disturbed the fantasy.

Although the Royce 270 Lounge is intimate, it is not particularly comfortable. Some found the room hot; those near the open windows endured a steady draft. And by the end of the 90-minute recital, given without intermission, the folding chairs felt excruciatingly hard.

The program at first glance seemed a mishmash, but Golabek, with wit, warmth and authority, provided the relevant commentary linking the various works. She offered but one solo piano work--Chopin’s Polonaise in F-sharp minor--and to that she brought clear definition and drama.


The pianist, violinist Endre Balogh and cellist John Walz gave an expressive, lyrical account of Mendelssohn’s Trio in D minor, bringing to the work a sure sense of overall direction and contrast. Unfortunately the piano, lid fully raised, overpowered the others, and the trio exhibited very little rhythmic freedom.

Both problems occurred as Walz and Golabek rendered Robert Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces (originally for clarinet and piano), but Walz’s extraordinary sensitivity and fine control made up for such deficiencies. The pianist provided unusually sympathetic accompaniment to Balogh’s eloquent reading of Chopin’s Nocturne in C-sharp minor (in a Milstein arrangement).

The vibrancy of Edrea Vorsal’s soprano voice is more suited to the stage than the small recital hall. She nonetheless gave vivid, poignant performances of two of Liszt’s “Tre Sonetti di Petrarca.”