Now 10 years old, the Laurentian String Quartet only this season is making first appearances in California.
In March, the four young musicians, quartet in residence at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, played in Berkeley. Thursday, they appeared in Orange County. Sunday they play, on the Chamber Music in Historic Sites series, in Pasadena.
In a Mozart/Bartok/ Haydn/Barber program for the Laguna Beach Chamber Music Society Thursday night, the ensemble--violins Sung Rai Sohn and Larry Watson, violist Joel Rudin and cellist Rolf Gilstein--made a decidedly mixed impression.
Their obvious versatility left one listener confused as to their actual accomplishment; at the same time, technical inconsistencies compromised and marred some of their performances. Artistically, their profile proved inconclusive.
The players clearly felt a rapport with each of the four composers here essayed, though crispness and transparency was in short supply in otherwise probing and straightforward readings of both Mozart's F-major Quartet, K. 168, and Haydn's Opus 20, No. 4.
Bartok's thorny Third Quartet held no terrors for the ensemble; its continuity emerged unimpeded, its drama carefully laid out, its mechanical hurdles easily traversed.
Hints of basic ensemble inequities were displayed most clearly in the program closer, Barber's cherishably youthful Quartet, Opus 11.
A lack of strong leadership may be one of the problems. Furthermore, first violinist Sohn also seems the least consistent player mechanically; throughout the evening, but particularly here, his intonational batting-average fell far below those of his fellows'.