The brief Chamber Music at the John Anson Ford Theatre series ended Sunday afternoon with a soul-satisfying performance of Schumann's E-flat Piano Quintet by the Sequoia String Quartet and pianist Cynthia Raim, who had made her local debut two days earlier to kick off the three-concert event.
The neighboring Hollywood Freeway was on its best sonic behavior and the drone of airplanes intruded only briefly. The biggest problem of the afternoon was, in fact, the chill westerly breeze that unexpectedly blew in during the Schumann for which, fortunately, pianist Raim had the services of a virtuoso page turner (and page holder).
Raim's playing proved both grandly spirited and subtly nuanced, while her rapport with the Sequoians bespoke years of partnership rather than what was, in fact, an acquaintance stretching back little more than a week.
Earlier on, the Sequoians presented a suitably tense rendering of Mozart's Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546, followed by that composer's String Quintet in G minor, K. 516.
The quartet members--violinists Peter Marsh and Miwako Watanabe, violist James Dunham, cellist Bonnie Hampton--with the estimable assistance of violist Samuel Rhodes, on loan from the Juilliard Quartet, gave a richly detailed, moving interpretation of the elusive Mozart quintet, a daring choice for outdoor presentation.
But it worked, most notably in the exquisitely sad, muted third movement which, surprisingly, did not evaporate amid the obbligato bird calls and, briefly, the roar of an 18-wheeler (at least) on the freeway.
While the Schumann Quintet ended the program on an exultant, heroic note, there could be no denying the darker significance of the event: the last concert by the Sequoia as currently constituted and, if one reads the signs correctly, among the last by the group in any form, leaving a sizable hole in Los Angeles' musical life.
But if we no longer have the Sequoia, at least there's the hope of additional seasons of Chamber Music at the Ford. How nice if the Sequoia, in some future reincarnation, could be part of them.