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MUSIC REVIEW : High Spirits, Warmth at Ford Concert

July 27, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

Performancewise, it may have been a less-than-stellar evening of chamber music under the stars, but musicwise, it flew.

In a welcome program of not-often encountered pieces by Lutoslawski, Mendelssohn and Brahms at John Anson Ford Amphitheatre Monday night, eight members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave readings solid and professional enough for steady glimpses at the wonders in that music.

To open, clarinetist David Howard and pianist Zita Carno did better than that by Lutoslawski's "Dance Preludes," brief Stravinskyized settings of Polish folk songs, in an elegantly traced and light-footed account.

Mendelssohn's difficult String Quartet in E minor, Opus 44, No. 2, sounded as treacherous as it is in a performance by violinists Alexander Treger and Camille Avellano, violist Evan N. Wilson and cellist Barry Gold, and safe tempos in both the second movement Allegro molto and the finale, Presto agitato, dulled the edges there. Still, the playing never lacked in spirit or emotional warmth.

The same musicians were joined by violist Ingrid Runde and cellist Ben Hong for Brahms' String Sextet in G, Opus 36, to conclude the program. We seemed on firmer ground here, whether from the safety that comes in numbers, or from the less-demanding interpretive stance of this airy, melodious music.

Though the amplification could seem too harsh--at least for Brahms' sonorous scoring--and ensemble values hovered closer to sturdy than pure, the reading still proved capable of reminding one just how lovable this music is. Good enough.

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