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Borodin Trio Opens Laguna Series

September 23, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

More than two decades before Orange County got around to building its own performing arts center, there was musical ground breaking--in Laguna Beach, of course.

Founded in 1959 as a showcase for local musicians, the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society, which moved into its present headquarters in the auditorium at Laguna Beach High School 20 years ago this month, has since presented an admirable smorgasbord of internationally known ensembles. Sunday night, it opened its 27th season.

For a third Southern California appearance in 12 months, the Canadian-based Borodin Trio offered slick but impersonal pre-intermission performances of works by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, then returned after the interval to relight the fires in Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio.

Luba Edlina (piano), Rostislav Dubinsky (violin) and Yuli Turovsky (cello) imbued Dvorak's familiar piece with genuine character, probing emotionalism and high spirits, as well as immaculate instrumentalism. But these qualities were largely missing in the ensemble's playing of Beethoven's Trio in E-flat, Opus 1, No. 1, and Mendelssohn's C-minor Trio.

Whereas in the "Dumky" (which they also played in January for Music Guild at the Wilshire Ebell) the three players found and explored facets of the work's personality, at the same time revealing aspects of their own individualities, in the earlier part of this generous program they merely went through the motions of interpreting the music before them.

A certain dryness and detachment--sterility, even--marked the ensemble's playing of Beethoven's very first trio. Here, as in the following Mendelssohn work, the exact nature of each movement was indicated only generally, not made specific. And the playing, highly fluent from pianist Edlina, grainy in tone from her string partners, tended to be mechanical and unthinking.

Oddly enough, in this auditorium, which one used to consider acoustically faithful and superior, the piano Edlina played seemed monochromatic in sound and dynamics, the stringed instruments small-toned and whiny--at least before intermission. In any case, all aspects of the performance improved afterward.

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