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Mt. Auburn String Quartet

At Club 47 Sunday

By Joel E. Cohen

In presenting a series of Sunday afternoon chamber music concerts, Club Mount Auburn 47 aims for quality somewhere between the Paganini String Quartet and a student recital. The Mount Auburn Quartet's program of yesterday afternoon fell exactly where it should, in the middle: not really professional, but quite good enough to be fun.

The starter, Mozart's Duo for Violin and Viola in G (K. 423) makes nearly equal demands on violinist and violist, and regrettably the two performers were not equally up to them. Roy Sonne, violin, delivered a strong, clear line, which became tiresome only when it remained a strong, clear line throughout most of the three movements. But by playing double stops out of tune, occasionally missing entrances that should have been carefully timed, and rushing sustained notes, Joan Renne (violist) vitiated much of Sonne's power.

Far more enjoyable was the Beethoven C minor quartet, Op. 18. Although among Beethoven's first batch of string quartets, this quartet shows the vigor, delightful humor, and insistence on making the instruments serve the music that characterizes Beethoven's later quartet writing. The liveliness of the work seemed to wake up the performers; they started with good, solid attacks and supplied plenty of dynamic ups and downs. Cellist Lawrence Hamilton's full tone and adequate technique supplied a foundation to the ensemble, and second violinist Gretchen Anner played her solo in the trio of the third movement accurately, if without inspiration. But the violist remained out of tune; her solos with the cellist were rather more contrapuntal than the composer intended. Still, the patter-song theme of the fourth movement saved the performance. Both musicians and audience enjoyed the broad humor, the racing around and the undeceptive deceptions.

As the management of the Club no doubt intended, the concert, surrounded by Eli Levin's paintings, at the scene of Jim River's deliverances, could be nothing but informal. A pleasant way it was, with no academic pressures to worry about, to pass the afternoon.

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