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Music Reviews : Daniel Quartet, John Perry at Wilshire Ebell

December 04, 1987|HERBERT GLASS

The Netherlands-based Daniel String Quartet, which won many friends on the occasion of its local debut, for Music Guild, last season, returned to the scene of that success, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, on Wednesday.

Consisting of violinists Benzion Shamir and Misha Furman, violist Itamar Shimon and cellist Zvi Maschkowksi, the Daniel's Romantic performing style might seem unsuited to Schubert's decidedly Classical Quartet in E-flat, D. 87, which opened their program.

Yet, played with lots of first-violin portamento and pregnant Luftpausen, Schubert's sweet-tempered juvenilia emerged, surprisingly, more substantial than usual. And execution here was impeccably ordered.

Bartok's Sixth Quartet is equal parts darkest melancholia and lively folksiness, a balance that was powerfully projected in a performance ripe in tone, strong in rhythmic profile and rich in sentiment--East-European grand rather than New-World fleet--although the Daniel's dissonances occasionally proved a good deal harsher than Bartok's.

Technical problems bedeviled Dvorak's Quintet in A, Opus 81, in which pianist John Perry, an honored veteran of the local chamber music scene, was the fifth member.

Although Perry's lively playing was hardly note-perfect and the total interpretation seemed a few rehearsals short of stageworthiness, the Daniel's overriding problems were internal rather than with their guest.

Viola and cello intonation were patchy, to say the least. And even when the cellist was on the mark his frail tone left the ensemble without an anchor.

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