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MUSIC REVIEW : Mozartean Players Deliver the Goods

October 03, 1994|HERBERT GLASS

A sizable tuned-in audience was regaled by the Mozartean Players, one of the best period-instrument chamber ensembles around, on Friday in Westwood United Methodist Church. The event was presented by the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts.

It's a mark of the maturation of the antiquarian movement that one no longer has to make allowances for such a group as the Mozarteans: pianist Steven Lubin, violinist Stanley Ritchie and cellist Myron Lutzke. We expect them to deliver the technical goods, and then some.

The trio was at peak form on Friday in a program whose first half comprised contrasting works by Mozart: by the 20-year-old (that is, middle-aged) composer, the strictly-for-fun Divertimento in B-flat, K. 254, jovial to the max in these players' deft hands. Then, the aged (31-year-old) master's duo Sonata in A, K. 526, full of unexpected harmonies and dark little key changes, which Lubin and Ritchie delivered with keen rhythmic underlining and the gutsiness once thought impossible from--or inappropriate to--nominally delicate old instruments.

There were similar rewards in the neat partnership of Lubin and Lutzke in Beethoven's early, but hardly immature, Sonata in F, Opus 5, No. 1. Here, the listener could savor the kind of easy, natural balance that performers of this music on modern instruments are hard put to achieve, what with the grand piano's tendency to swamp the cello, and the latter attempting to compensate by forcing tone to the point of growling.

Haydn's familiar Trio in G, with the "Gypsy-rondo" finale, sounded a little less familiar on this occasion since the ensemble refused to take the first two sections as mere prefatory material.

The opening movement, wanly gracious in most hands, was given a welcome edge of tension by the three players' pointed ignoring of the composer's or, more likely, a later editor's Andante marking in favor of a Poco allegro that stiffened the music's spine and afforded the violinist--Ritchie at his scintillant best--greater than usual opportunity to strut his stuff.

The famous finale thus came as a culmination, separated from the opening by the most graciously flowing, piano-dominated slow movement, rather than sounding like an encore.

Splendidly satisfying stuff, all of it.

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