When is the sum of two plus four, two? When the two are violinist Miriam Fried and cellist Lynn Harrell and the four are members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, of which Harrell is artistic director.
This addition comes in connection with the Brahms Sextet in G, Opus 36, which was the final item of Wednesday's Nakamichi Foundation-sponsored concert at Schoenberg Hall at UCLA.
Brahms' creation was propelled by Fried's sizzling, lush-toned leadership while Harrell provided an anchor of stunning sonority. Between the two there was virtually nothing--which is not to demean the efforts of violinist Cheng-Mei Sun, violists Kirsten Monke and Karen Hebermehl and cellist Amanda Forsyth.
The disparity between these game youngsters and the almost intimidatingly assured pros was, however, too great to allow for a valid assessment of the performance in ensemble terms.
But was it exciting? Oh yes, even when, with Fried encountering pitch problems, the tricky Adagio movement emerged more as mortal combat with, than clarification of, the Brahmsian counterpoint.
The remainder of this admission-free event, which showcased a total of two dozen institute participants, offered a group of Renaissance brass antiphons with Philharmonic trumpeter Boyde Hood conducting a polished octet of performers; another accomplished ensemble making light of the complexities of a movement from the Schoenberg Woodwind Quintet; and a generally unsettled Ravel Introduction and Allegro featuring a technically secure but tense reading of the central harp part by Laura Porter.