Last night in Shriver Hall the Cantilena Piano Quartet played a sleepy program in a sleepy manner. The piano quartets of Aaron Copland and Gabriel Faure (No. 1 in C Minor) are fairly strong pieces, but combining them with the Vincent D'Indy piano quartet made for an evening that sometimes felt like swimming upstream in syrup. It was a snoozerama.
The playing didn't help matters. The ensemble of the Cantilena players (pianist Frank Glazer, violinist Edna Michell, violist Philipp Naegele and cellist Steven Thomas) was often weak, the intonation was sometimes unsteady and the tone was frequently unattractive.
The worst performance of the night came in the weakest music. Some of the music of D'Indy is still on the fringes of the repertory -- it was only a few seasons back that the Baltimore Symphony programmed his once-popular "Symphony on a French Mountain Air" -- but it largely deserves its current neglect. His Piano Quartet in A Minor sounds like warmed-over Cesar Franck -- a good deal of Gallic grunting and groaning all tied together through cyclic form. Suffice it to say that last night's sloppy, out-of-tune performance did not make a strong case for the music. As for the music, let's hope that it will pass from obscurity into oblivion.