TASHI ensemble delivers genial performance in Shriver Hall concert

February 08, 1993|By Robert Haskins | Robert Haskins,Contributing Writer

The American music ensemble TASHI, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has been a major force in chamber music performance. Its concert last night at Johns Hopkins University's Shriver Hall was an evening of sublime music-making and a fitting celebration of this milestone.

TASHI has performed an astonishing variety of chamber music past and present, and for many different types of chamber ensembles. Last night's program featured clarinetist Richard Stoltzman and a string quartet comprising violinists Ida Kavafian and Theodore Arm, violist Steven Tenenbom, and cellist Fred Sherry, performing music written for all or some of the five instruments.

First on the program was Hugo Wolf's "Italian Serenade" for string quartet. The work is one of the composer's only chamber pieces, written while Wolf was still in his 20s, and TASHI's account of it was delightfully genial.

It was a privilege to hear Mr. Stoltzman join the quartet for a brilliant performance of Brahms' Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Opus 115. Mr. Stoltzman is one of a handful of clarinetists who program this difficult work, and he is probably the only clarinetist who has a right to do so.

His tone is unfailingly beautiful and miraculously smooth throughout the instrument's range. Coupled with his extraordinary musicianship, Mr. Stoltzman gives this music a plangent expressiveness absolutely essential to the interpretation of Brahms' late music.

The second half of the program was devoted to music from this century which, by its synoptic nature, was distinctly audience-friendly. The sturdy "Allegro" movement of Shostakovich's Fourth String Quartet was featured, as well as a movement from an early clarinet quintet by Hindemith and a sophisticated miniature by Elliott Carter, the "Con Leggerezza penosa: Omaggio al Italo Calvino" for clarinet, violin, and cello.

TASHI's exquisite performances of this music served as testimonial to the ensemble's heroic commitment to music in this century and to the rich and diverse musical legacy produced by its composers.

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