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MUSIC REVIEW : TASHI Marks 20th Anniversary

April 09, 1993|HERBERT GLASS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For the Los Angeles segment of its current 20th-anniversary tour, TASHI honored the large audience present in the County Museum's Bing Theater on Wednesday with a boldly imaginative performance of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet.

The ensemble, consisting of clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, violinists Ida Kavafian and Theodore Arm, violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Fred Sherry, quickly upset expectations of moony-croony autumnal Brahms with a fast, tersely inflected attack on that fabulous opening B-minor theme, that nonetheless left ample room for lyric sentiment.

The strings were charged with building tension, which Stoltzman proceeded to release, then join, then heighten with his remarkable array of dynamics and shadings of tone.

For once there was no letdown after the heavenly languors of the slow, second movement: The point that this interpretation followed Brahms' dictates by having only one markedly slow movement merits noting.

The entire score was given a sense of shape and direction rarely encountered from musicians more intent on polish than on mobility and drama.

Satisfactions were fleeting during the rest of the evening, although hardly for reasons of inferior execution.

The problem was the program itself, which began conventionally enough with Wolf's "Italian Serenade."

After intermission came statement time: that chamber music, even modern chamber music, by gum, can be fun, fun, fun--which hardly needed emphasizing for the assembled connoisseurs.

The agenda included excerpts from works by Shostakovich, Schoenberg, Messiaen, Hindemith and others, all handsomely delivered, but none, with the possible exception of the central movement of Shostakovich's Third Quartet, working as an entity or around long enough to give convincing proof of its composer's distinctiveness.

Happy 20th, anyway, TASHI. And come back soon, with more substantial offerings. We Angelenos can take it.

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