The Emerson String Quartet, which made a hugely positive impression last week at the Ford Amphitheatre, returned there on Monday with heavyweight reinforcements in tow. The results were decidedly mixed.
With cellist Lynn Harrell as the fifth member, the Emersons commenced with the mighty C-major Quintet of Schubert in a performance that gained cohesiveness as it progressed. But, one felt like an interloper at a rehearsal.
Perhaps the external discord to which the players were subject at the outset--a lengthy squawking competition among a horde of angry blue jays--contributed to a disheveled opening movement.
Persistent problems included ragged entries (first violinist Philip Setzer refusing to make eye contact with his fellows), intonational irregularities and cello imbalance, Harrell's gruffly imposing tone overshadowing in unison passages the lighter, sweeter sounds of the Emerson's David Finckel.