A certain inconsistency marked the three-part program by the Colorado Quartet on Monday at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.
Perhaps some of the effects intended by violinists Julie Rosenfeld and Deborah Redding, violist Francesca Martin Silos and cellist Diane Chaplin simply evaporated into the open air and the white noise of the nearby freeway.
Certainly the eerie introduction to Beethoven's Third "Razumovsky" Quartet (Opus 59, No. 3) unfolded in a way only half-heard from about a third of the way back from the stage.
But that wasn't the problem.
The playing in Haydn's Quartet in G, Opus 54, No. 1, which had opened the program, had been sufficiently robust, sunny and lively enough to carry. It also had been infused with a youthful vigor that didn't prevent precise, intelligent ensemble values.
The performance of Smetana's Quartet No. 1 ("From My Life"), which closed the program, projected clear, sympathetic programmatic intentions, even if it didn't plumb the depths and did include a woozy trio that was a bit overdone.
Rather, the problem with the Beethoven was conceptual.
The interpretation shifted between the impetuous and the unassertive, the strongly articulated and the pressureless. The players found a new energy and drama in the fugal final movement, but until then the overall shape and structure had remained amorphous. The playing was fine. The ideas didn't jell.