"Four stars

Hilbert Circle Theatre Wood Room; April 24

Titled “Music from the St. Petersburg Conservatory,” the Ronen Chamber Ensemble’s final program returned us to the Wood Room last Tuesday — their best haunt. Their all-Russian program began with four “simple” waltzes by Shostakovich, featuring pianist Susan Patterson Scott, flutist Robin Peller and clarinetist David Bellman. The Shostakovich trademark was only obvious in the fourth waltz, wherein Peller switched to a piccolo. Glazunov’s Novelettes for String Quartet, Op. 15 (1886) followed, and featured violinists Louise Alexander and Lisa Scott, violist Nancy Agres and cellist Ingrid Fischer-Bellman. David Bellman then returned for Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo (1918). The program concluded with Anton Arensky’s well known String Quartet in A Minor for the unusual combination of violin, viola and two cellos, with cellist Perry Scott supplying the second big one. The star of this program was clearly the Wood Room, its carpeted, acoustically-dry closeness allowing us to “touch” the performers, their instruments and their music with our ears — an intimacy not achievable in any of the other common chamber venues. The performers, in turn, gave us their best, and that “best” is very good indeed.

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