Dallas — The Blue Candlelight Music Series concerts, held in the elegant Preston Hollow home of arts patrons Richard and Enika Schulze, is one of the best-kept musical secrets in Dallas. Only about 50 guests can serve as audience for these concerts, so they are usually completely sold out. For those lucky enough to snag a ticket Sunday evening, the program was an especial treat.
After a cocktail hour, with wine and hors d’oeuvres, the music began, featuring Artistic Director Baya Kakouberi on piano, as well as Ellen DePasquale, violin, and Anna Gorelova, cello.
First up was Dvořák’s Four Romantic Pieces for violin and piano, Op. 75. A typo on the program listed these as “Fantastic” pieces, and I was initially excited—are there works for violin and piano by Dvořák with which I am unfamiliar? The first notes both quelled that excitement and invited a different kind. The Four ROMANTIC Pieces are some of the most charming short works in the repertoire, not technically difficult but delightful to listen to. After a miscommunication by DePasquale and Kakouberi that necessitated a restart, the four pieces went swimmingly. DePasquale has a pure, refined sound, which she adjusted to the relatively small size of the space.
Also on the first half of the program was Chopin’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 65. One of only a handful of pieces not primarily for piano (or piano and orchestra), Chopin’s four-movement Cello Sonata is a ferocious creature, and cellist Anna Gorelova channeled tremendous ferocity herself, in this performance. While Kakouberi’s piano playing occasionally overbalanced Gorelova, their phrasing and musical character were mostly quite well-matched.
After an intermission of dessert and, if desired, more wine, the audience returned to their seats for one of the greatest of all piano trios, Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor. Kakouberi, DePasquale, and Gorelova created an electrifying performance. In the first movement, marked Molto Allegro ed agitato, the three summoned a remarkable, growling intensity. The second movement, Andante con moto tranquillo, featured precise intonation, effective balance, and beautifully shaped phrases. In the third movement Scherzo, which they played again as an encore, DePasquale handled the tricky melodic line with seeming ease, and Kakouberi, who earlier had announced herself as a last-minute substitute, ably managed the fourth movement Finale’s busy piano part.
These concerts are great fun and a fine way to meet fellow music lovers, if you can only get a ticket.