The Philharmonic’s chamber program tied into the John Adams week with the brief China Gates for piano at the start and the nose-thumbing charm of John’s Book of Alleged Dances at the end; Ravel’s A-minor Trio, again rather glumly played, came in the middle. Better than any of this, however, were the Poèmes de Ronsard, a pair of songs for soprano and flute by Albert Roussel, sung by Christine Brandes and by Catherine Ransom’s magic flute: elegant, graceful, intertwined melodies by a little-known French composer of neoclassic bent who’s known, if at all, for his jaunty Third Symphony.
The crowd at Gindi was surprisingly sparse; these chamber concerts used to draw well, especially among the University of Judaism loyalists. Last year the Philharmonic moved the series across the freeway to the Skirball Center’s new Ahmanson Hall, an ugly and uncomfortable venue; the major conversational topic all year was the hall itself. After a year the concerts returned to Gindi, not exactly a palace for the arts, but at least a place where you could get to your seat without cracking a shinbone. Now word needs to re-circulate: Come back, o patrons; the Philharmonic needs you and chamber music needs you!