It was makeup time for the Tokyo Quartet last night when the ensemble returned to the Corcoran to give the program that had been canceled in December due to illness of one of the members. Given the physical demands of two of the works -- Mendelssohn's third quarter and Janacek's quarter inspired by Tolstoy's story, "The Kreutzer Sonata" -- only palyers in the best health should tackle them.
For the turbulent Janacek music, the Tokyo was in top form, projecting with that expressive intensity and high technical perfection for which the group is known. The sonata is a fascinating piece, filled with sharp contrasts and rapid shifts in mood. It makes especially striking use of the sul ponticellio effect -- bowing near the bridge -- which creates an errie, nasal sound.
In the opening Mozart quartet No. 15, the group did not really warm up until the final movement. The music was played correctly enough but simply lacked any extra dimension of feeling.
The closing Mendelssohn quartet went well in spirited fashion although first violinist Koichiro Harada seemed a bit off his usual smooth stride. Particularly in his solo passages of the second movement there were a few rough edges as well as slight intonation problems.
The Toyko returns to the Corcoran on March 28 in a concert that will mark the 10th anniversary of its association with the museum.