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Zukerman Joins Trio for Uneven Concert

The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, which roared into the Veterans Wadsworth Theater on Thursday for the first local stop in its 20th anniversary season (the trio returns in May, to another venue), is a powerhouse ensemble by any standards. On this occasion, with a heavyweight “guest,” violist Pinchas Zukerman, in tow, overkill threatened.

And, indeed, the opening selection, Mozart’s G-minor Piano Quartet, was done in by a reading that failed to maintain balances: Zukerman’s juicy tones and astonishing technical facility swamped Jaime Laredo’s uncharacteristically thin-toned violin, while pianist Joseph Kalichstein, seemingly unnerved, committed more than the permissible minimum of finger slips and cellist Sharon Robinson faded in and out of focus.

With the permanently constituted ensemble taking the stage for Shostakovich’s harrowing E-minor Trio, the picture changed from scrappy to sublime. The group presented a taut, searching interpretation, taking the hazardous road of infinite but never fussy nuance. One can get away with playing this cannily crafted score literally--big, bold, straight for the gut--setting forth its alternations of quiet sadness and screaming terror with utmost simplicity. Here, the work gained stature from the players’ superbly realized combination of rhythmic thrust, extreme dynamic subtlety and impeccable mechanics. Tremendous stuff.

For the grandiose finale, Zukerman returned, this time to lend vitality and substance to Dvorak’s E-flat Quartet, Op. 87--music of endless lyricism and folksy, dancing charm, set forth with flashing colors and immense spirit by what was now a masterful, fully integrated team.

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