Music Review : Philharmonic Chamber Series Catches Fire With Haydn

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It’s been a good week for Haydn. Over the holiday weekend, the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave its belated, first complete performances of “The Seasons.”

And Monday night, at the Philharmonic Chamber Music Society event closing that series’ 1993-94 schedule, a foursome of LAPO string players set fire to Haydn’s Quartet in G minor, “The Rider.”

It was a controlled blaze, but plenty warm. Violinists Alexander Treger and Camille Avellano, violist Evan N. Wilson and cellist Barry Gold brought abundant virtuosity, mordant stylishness and a strong sense of risk-taking to this demanding and familiar score.


If their ensemble tone sometimes grew wiry in the Con brio finale, their production of full-throated, expressive sound earlier on had to be cause for unqualified admiration. Playing this confident and polished does not arrive on our stages every day, or even every month. Nor is Haydn usually so well-served.

With guest cellist Bernard Greenhouse, as well as Philharmonic violist John Hayhurst joining the quartet, this program--which had been postponed from the night after the earthquake, Jan. 17--concluded with Brahms’ second Sextet, Opus 36.

Again, beauteous and deep-probing playing predominated. Perhaps the exuberance of the moment accounted for the group’s going over the top in the Scherzo--in any case, no great harm was done; Brahms’ music can usually handle a bit of overplaying.

At mid-program at the commodious University Synagogue sanctuary in Brentwood, the veteran Greenhouse--for 32 years, cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio--joined another Chamber Society guest, pianist Lina Targonsky, in an authoritative and joyous revival of Beethoven’s Variations on “See, the conqu’ring hero comes.”