The London-based Chilingirian String Quartet, which appeared for an enthusiastic Music Guild audience at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Wednesday, may in past visits to these parts have given us the occasionally rough performance amid the highly polished ones, but never a casual or thoughtless one.
Wednesday's program proved hearteningly typical, beginning with Mozart's Quartet in D, K. 575. Here, the Chilingirian produced an edgelessly sweet, airborne tone, focusing on Philip De Groote's delicately bounding cello, within the context of strong but insistent rhythmicality.
In the ensuing Quartet No. 7 (1960) of Shostakovich, the group--violinists Levon Chilingirian and Mark Butler, violist Louise Williams, and De Groote--showed as convincing a grasp of Shostakovich's crabbed modernity as they did of Mozart's ultra-refined (in the case of K. 575) Classicism.
The nattering, growling, tensely insinuating Seventh was delivered with easy virtuosity and dramatic punch by the Chilingirian. The players seemed to revel in the tricky rhythmic shifts while skillfully projecting the murmurous, fadeaway pianissimos and flashes of quasi-orchestral sonority demanded by one of the most provocative of the composer's quartets.
Beethoven's Quartet in E flat, Opus 127, impressed nonetheless in the Chilingirian's mobile, unportentous reading. Not as precisely tuned or balanced in execution as its predecessors on the program, but satisfying nonetheless was the Chilingirian's affectionate projection of latter-years Beethoven at its least strenuous and hectoring.