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MUSIC REVIEW : Watanabe, Martin, Perry at Gindi Auditorium

December 03, 1987|JOHN HENKEN

Intermission seemed to make the difference at Gindi Auditorium on Tuesday evening. For whatever reason, after the break violinist Miwako Watanabe, cellist Robert Martin and pianist Antoinette Perry completely turned around a previously lackluster concert.

The program--the second in the series dedicated to the memory of cellist Mischa Schneider--ended with Schubert's Trio in E-flat, Opus 100. A characteristically spacious, lyrical work, it is not quite as popular as his B-flat Trio.

That could change, however, with a few more performances of it like the shining model Watanabe-Martin-Perry delivered. They capitalized on smooth ensemble, a broad dynamic spectrum and a seemingly limitless variety of tone and color. The players also gave careful attention to Schubert's highly personal development of traditional forms, revealing structural detail without strangling sentiment.

The air conditioning in Gindi was turned off during the performances, a sensitive but not entirely sensible decision with a nearly full house. Somehow, the threesome did not overcome the stuffy results as triumphantly in works by Mozart and Alexander Goehr as they did in Schubert.

Not that anything in Mozart's B-flat Trio, K. 502, went greatly wrong. But then little went greatly right, either. Missed connections and ensemble quirks added up to a cursory reading of limited scope.

Goehr's Opus 20 Trio, from 1966, is a two-movement work of subtle, muted detail. His language is freely dissonant but anchored to clear tonal centers, and his developments are leisurely and even fussy. His Trio makes the type of evolutionary rumination in which it is difficult to hear the music of the whole for the notes of the moment.

The performance did nothing to make Goehr's points immediate. Piano and strings often sounded as isolated forces, with the rhythmic complexities of the piece blurred rather than clearly articulated.

It was also difficult to tell in some passages when misintonation ended and quarter-tones began. The effect was leaden respectability, where the composer seemed to intend rapt expressivity.

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