The Tokyo String Quartet performed at the University of Maryland on Saturday and reaffirmed its hold on the three Rs that characterize so much of the group's style: restraint, refinement and reason.
These qualities gave the Mozart D Major Quartet K. 575 a luminescence and an intimacy that transcended the grand proportions of the auditorium. There was also, however, a coolness about the performance that made the music sound a little routine.
Takemitsu's "A Way a Lone," commissioned by the quartet, is marvelously geared to what it does so well. Its impressionistic textures require the most careful balance and the most transparent clarity. The ensemble handled this task beautifully, allowing the recurrent theme to make its presence felt, but never obtrusively, while maintaining the glowing context.
Pianist Tedd Joselson joined the quartet for the concluding Brahms F Minor Quintet. It was an interesting reading of this work, one that managed passion without breadth and movement without urgency. Long developmental passages that usually fly by in breathless excitement were, instead, examined in leisure, and sections that are so often played with a legato that borders on the lugubrious were instead almost martially rhythmic and bouncy. It was unexpected but reasonable.