It was evident at their stunningly fine concert in a sparsely populated Thorne Hall on the Occidental College campus that word of the Angeles Quartet's excellence, and of Thorne's warmly enriching acoustic, has not reached the supposedly large band of our area's chamber music aficionados.
Numerous opportunities to make the players' acquaintance remain, however, in what will be quartet's busiest Southland season to date.
Performing as an entity for less than four years, the Angeles--violinists Kathleen Lenski and Roger Wilkie, violist Brian Dembow, cellist Stephen Erdody--plays with predictable energy and technical facility, but also with a keen responsiveness, to the music and to each other, and interpretive depth expected only from an ensemble which has worked together for decades.
The earliest of Beethoven's quartets, in D, Opus 18, was all clear-toned spiritedness--with a backbone of rhythmic steel--in their hands, while Janacek's First Quartet, which he titled "Kreutzer Sonata" for its programmatic references to Tolstoy's tale of murderous jealousy, was delivered with finesse and power.
Its jagged lines and murmuring tremolos, its flickering chips of melody, its extreme dynamic and rhythmic shifts were harnessed--not into a formal scheme (Janacek's method prohibits that), but into a heady dramatic experience.
Mozart's String Quintet in D, K. 593, with veteran violist Donald McInnes a welcome fifth member, ended the program triumphantly.
Rather than trying to describe a performance of music of such emotional richness, let it be stated simply that Angeles and friend delivered it with a glorious combination of muscle, sweetness and sensitivity, and that their rapt exposition of the slow movement's infinite wonders deserves an entire review to itself.
The program will be repeated on Tuesday at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine. Be there.