From a glance at the composers--Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms--you might imagine that the program offered by the Angeles String Quartet to the Coleman Concerts, Sunday afternoon at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium, was mired in "Great Works" conservatism.
But there were no chamber music commonplaces here, but rather a fresh, inspiriting program, delivered with much cheer and sophistication.
Flutist Carol Wincenc joined violinist Kathleen Lenski and violist Brian Dembow in the centerpiece, Beethoven's Opus 25 Serenade. It is a trifle by Beethovenian standards of tempestuous striving, to be sure, but a long, heady trifle filled with the joy of sheer virtuosity.
The threesome delivered it with sunny skill, complementary in attack and balance. Here, as elsewhere on the program, there were some odd buzzes and echoes off the shell, but those intermittent glitches aside, the sound proved invitingly warm and faceted.
Mozart's Quartet in F, K. 168, opened the agenda with equally refreshing flair. Violinist Roger Wilkie and cellist Stephen Erdody filled out the quartet with Lenski and Dembow, working with stylish spirit. The muted Andante seemed a bit over-deliberate but made effectively somber contrast to the surrounding vigors.
After intermission, the Angeles Quartet turned to the mellower, familiar but unhackneyed charms of Brahms A-minor Quartet, Opus 51, No. 2.
It played with suave conviction, clearsighted about goals but endlessly flexible in tone and temperament.