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O.C. MUSIC REVIEW

Mendelssohn Quartet Moves at Barclay

March 27, 1997|CHRIS PASLES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — The program didn't leave much to do at the end except try to pick up the emotional pieces.

The Mendelssohn String Quartet and clarinetist Charles Neidich played Brahms' ineffable Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Opus 115, Tuesday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre and followed it, as Neidich announced from the stage, with the only possible encore they could imagine--the Larghetto from Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A, K. 581.

It was a wipeout ending to this season's chamber music series presented by the Laguna Chamber Music Society and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

In his late quintet, Brahms' relinquishes many of the complexities of his earlier style. He peels off all the outer layers to reveal sinews and bones and finds only the essential. The work culminates in a delirious waltz that recalls a world well-lost for love, then plunges into inconsolable pain.

Or if there is consolation, only Mozart's serene Larghetto could provide it.

Such thoughts could arise only because of the excellent playing and interpretations by Neidich and his colleagues--violinists Nick Eanet and Nicholas Mann, violist Marcia Lambros and cellist Marcy Rosen.

They opened the program with Weber's ingratiating but shallow Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, Opus 34. The Mendelssohnians also played Michael Alec Rose's String Quartet No. 4, composed for them last year. For all its modular intricacies, it is a work of French clarity and antecedent that rises to a lovely song prominently sounded by the viola.

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