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Schwartz Keeps Firm Control

March 13, 1995|TIMOTHY MANGAN

Violinist Sergiu Schwartz, heard Friday night in Schoenberg Hall at UCLA, is one of those musicians who seems conscious of everything he does. That rubs a listener both ways.

Possessed of a big, bright, ringing tone and commanding technique, Schwartz uses his means to well-honed, responsible and always intense ends. One hears the care and craftsmanship he brings to the music. One senses the earnestness with which he pursues his cause.

What his playing lacked in music by Kreisler, Prokofiev, Franck, Bach and Bloch was spontaneity, finesse and emotional abandon. Digging into the lower range of his instrument, for instance, he scrupulously avoided a raspy tone and made pointed releases with his bow. The control was admirable, but one felt the meticulousness more than the music.

Still, there was much to cherish about this solid recital from the Israeli-born musician, accompanied ably and sensitively by Robert Blocker, dean of the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA. Prokofiev's "Melodies," Kreisler's "Praeludium et Allegro" and Bloch's Sonata No. 2 (in the local premiere of the composer's revised version) spoke heartily and poetically as need be. Bach's D-minor Chaconne unraveled with technical authority and weighty thought.

Though generally pleasing, Franck's Sonata suffered from minor technical slips by both players and the violinist's failure to capture the more genial aspects of the work. As with Itzhak Perlman last week, Schwartz offered encores by John Williams and Pablo Sarasate, the Theme from "Schindler's List" and the Introduction and Tarantella.

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