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Chamber Music Reviews : Trio, Quartet Mix And Match At Ambassador

November 08, 1986|HERBERT GLASS

Ambassador Auditorium was the scene on Thursday of a rather curious joint presentation by two very different kinds of chamber ensemble: the Guarneri String Quartet and the trio comprising pianist Joseph Kalichstein, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson.

There being no single work on the program to utilize the talents of all seven artists--most likely none exists--it proved to be a mix-and- match affair in which each group first tended to its own duties, the Trio commencing with a virtuosic, anachronistically explosive, Romantic account of Haydn's Trio in C, Hob. 27.

Exit K-L-R, enter Guarneri, snapping out Beethoven's F-minor Quartet, Opus 95, with uncharacteristic aggressiveness, scrambled ensemble and, in the particularly unsettled opening movement, squally tone at the top (first violinist Arnold Steinhardt) and bottom (cellist David Soyer).

Any anticipatory qualms about the "mix" portions of the program were laid to rest with the ominously rumbling opening measures of Schoenberg's "Verklaerte Nacht," in which the Guarneri was joined by Laredo (playing second viola) and Robinson.

In ensemble tone and temperament, the playing could not have been more homogeneous. If the work nonetheless emerged more a collection of luscious moments than an entity, blame it on the composer. Schoenberg's gorgeous old bag of schmaltz is hardly a miracle of formal organization.

The rhythmic and emotional intensity, the sheer volume of Kalichstein's pianism, so ill-suited to Haydn, proved apt and irresistible in the concluding work of a lengthy program, a grandly scaled, fiercely energetic, immaculately coordinated account of Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor, Opus 25, in which the Trio was joined by the Guarneri's violist, Michael Tree.

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