MUSIC REVIEWS : Ginastera Quartet a Knockout at Gindi


The Monday evening presentation in Gindi Auditorium by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society was saved from being a total downer by the presence of Alberto Ginastera’s searing String Quartet, Opus 20 (1948), played by an ensemble of Philharmonic back-benchers as if their lives depended on it.

The first of the late composer’s three completed works in the medium is a tautly reasoned rhythmic thriller, nominally inspired by gaucho and Creole music of Ginastera’s native Argentina.

But its sound is more recognizably of the pan-European sort created in the wake of Bartok’s last quartets.


The ad hoc quartet, which delivered Ginastera’s knockout punches with unfailing energy and aplomb, comprised violinists Rochelle Abramson and Dale Breidenthal, violist Richard Elegino and cellist Stephen Custer.

As noted, Ginastera was the island of, if not calm, then of accomplishment in a sea of mediocrity represented by Ibert’s prettily wan 1944 Trio, in which Tamara Chernyak’s unvaryingly loud violin bullied Stephen Custer’s gentle cello and the timid harp of Sylvia Re, and the glorious A-minor String Quartet of Robert Schumann, brutally cuffed about by a disheveled foursome led with alternating flashes of hysteria, somnambulistic disengagement and wayward intonation by violinist Mischa Lefkowitz.