The unusual program offered by the Angeles String Quartet Thursday night at the Irvine Barclay Theatre seemed, after the event, like a missed opportunity.
The main orders of business were the Quintet No. 4 for String Quartet and Guitar by Boccherini and the seldom-heard String Quartet in A minor by Fritz Kreisler, and both emerged rather flat on this occasion.
Part of the problem with the Boccherini was the piece itself, the first two movements of which seem bent on non-stimulation. The players--Jack Sanders on guitar, Kathleen Lenski and Roger Wilkie on violins, Brian Dembow on viola and Stephen Erdody on cello--certainly didn't turn up the charm or milk the melodies in any special way, though Erdody impressed with some harmonic acrobatics in the Allegro maestoso.
Kreisler's solidly built Quartet of 1919, by turns a charming and forcefully expressive late-Romantic essay, was considerably underplayed. The composer's wide-ranging dynamic scheme and detailed layout of expressive cues produced few remarkable results. The Scherzo suffered at a considerably slower tempo than marked.
But, as with the Boccherini, the finale elicited the most stimulating playing from the musicians, who genuinely got into its robust and folksy spirit.
In both pieces, interpretive failings--or what were perceived as such by this listener--proved all the more noticeable for the generally high caliber of the technical accomplishment. In fact, it sounded like an off night for this accomplished group from the start, opening with a careful and controlled, almost graceless account of Haydn's String Quartet Op. 64, No. 6.