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Music Reviews : Previn, Stern in Chamber Concert

February 05, 1988|JOHN HENKEN

One of the less heralded features of this season is the amount of time Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Andre Previn is devoting to chamber music.

His second appearance with the Philharmonic Chamber Music Society came Monday, at Gindi Auditorium of the University of Judaism, enlisting guest Isaac Stern, who gave the U.S. premiere of Maxwell Davies' Violin Concerto last week with the Philharmonic.

The two closed the concert in Brahms' F-minor Quintet, with violinist Camille Guastafeste, violist Heiichiro Ohyama and cellist Ronald Leonard. The Philharmonic contingent showed no deference to their stellar guest--indeed, it was Stern who often sounded thin and overwhelmed.

Whatever the problems--and there were many--this was a contagiously spirited, dramatic account; an outsize but illuminating reading that somehow had the strength of its flaws.

Rhythmic cohesion in the more tumultuous moments--the end of the Scherzo, the cross-rhythms in the Finale--proved tenuous at best. But rather than suggesting awkwardness or underrehearsal, those passages seemed the result of overachieving passion, exciting in its sheer abandon to the musical moment.

Before intermission came the more restrained, neo-Classical pleasures of Hindemith's "Kleine Kammermusik," No. 2. This breezy, pungent opus from 1922 requires a wind quintet of precise ensemble and individual elan.

That the Philharmonic supplied Anne Diener Giles, flute; Barbara Winters, oboe; Lorin Levee, clarinet; Alan Goodman, bassoon, and William Lane, horn.

The evening began with Schubert's String Trio in B-flat, reminding us of the challenges of ad-hoc chamber music. There were some technical slips in the playing of violinist Tamara Chernyak, violist Ralph Fielding, and cellist Howard Colf, but the general impression was one of cautious routine.

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