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Music Reviews : Chester String Quartet Returns to Wilshire Ebell

February 26, 1988|HERBERT GLASS

The Indiana-based Chester String Quartet, which made its local debut two seasons ago as an 11th-hour substitution on the Music Guild series, returned to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Wednesday as a scheduled attraction, reinforcing the positive impression made earlier.

Still, there were problems--largely attributable to the inordinate length (and delayed starting time) of the program, which mitigated to some extent the impact of an agile, intelligent traversal of Schubert's massive C-major String Quintet, which brought the exhausting evening to a close.

Haydn's wistful Quartet in D minor, Opus 42, may have been too low-key an opener to calm an audience which unaccountably seemed more restless than is the rule at Music Guild events. Under any circumstances, the Chesters--violinists Nicolas Danielson and Susan Freier, violist Ronald Gorevic, cellist Thomas Rosenberg--played this fragile, subtle work with optimum sweetness and, appropriately, lightness of tone.

Memories of Haydn's subtle balances and effortless structural perfection were blown away by Grieg'sQuartet in G minor, a cartload of strong melodic ideas in search of a coherent structure, which the Chesters were--not to their discredit--unable to provide.

Still, their reading might have made more sense of Grieg's hectic, often inspired patchwork with a more substantial anchor than Rosenberg's suave but, in this instance, reticent cello.

Schubert's String Quintet--with cellist Peter Rejto as the smoothly integrated fifth member--was, however, most effective: shapely, rich (but not overly so) in emotional projection. Not a heaven-storming interpretation; that would not seem to be these players' way. But a satisfying one nonetheless on its own lyrical, finely detailed terms.

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