The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Sunday concert series has been going for years, but still struggles to find a niche. Although the price is right (free), and the venue far more comfortable than the National Gallery (whose concerts are also free), attendance is often thin.
Chinese pianist Ang Li gave a staid program of Mozart, Debussy, Chopin, Enrique Granados and “Last Dance,” a short work by Clark Ross, for the contemporary offering. Li is an efficient, unfussy player, but short on lyricism. In Mozart’s Sonata K. 330, the combination of minimal pedaling, a dry hall and Li’s crisp touch added up to rather plodding Mozart, not enhanced by her rushing in fast passages. In a set of Debussy Preludes, she captured the languor of “Danseuses de Delphes” and some of the brilliance of “Feux d’artifice,” but “La cathedrale engloutie” lacked the grandeur of long lines.