The musician is the composer's most important instrument, translating notated ideas into sonorous realities. The Composers String Quartet is just such an instrument. Organized 10 years ago to specialize in contemporary quartet works, the group has since embraced the classical repertoire with the same purposefulness. Last evening at the University of Maryland's Tawes Theatre, the quartet w0013 ----- r e BC-06/15/83-MUSIC 06-15 0001 Classical Twists From A Contemporary Quartet

The musician is the composer's most important instrument, translating notated ideas into sonorous realities. The Composers String Quartet is just such an instrument. Organized 10 years ago to specialize in contemporary quartet works, the group has since embraced the classical repertoire with the same purposefulness. Last evening at the University of Maryland's Tawes Theatre, the quartet addressed itself to pieces by Mozart, Hindemith and Brahms, and, for the most part, carried out all of their directions without a hitch.

Mozart's Quartet in B-flat major, KV 589, written in concertante style in the opening movements, demands unabashed solo playing by the first violin and cello (Mozart dedicated it to Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm II, an amateur cellist). Though the piece is seemingly contrary to the chamber music team concept, Matthew Raimondi and Mark Shuman gave their respective parts the regal treatment, but not at the expense of group clarity.

The B-flat Quartet was a sober introduction to Hindemith's "Minimax," a youthful collection of six comedic "outtakes" unpublished in his lifetime. As violist Jean Dane described, Hindemith crammed parodies and inside jokes into his glorified party music. Along the way, he becomes a Teutonic Spike Jones, attacking tradition and sending several warhorses off to the glue factory in the process. A mock army march has the cello playing like a tuba with a stuck valve; the closing section, "Leftover Pork Chops," begs for guffaws. The quartet deadpanned brilliantly.

Like Brahms, the players seemed torn between the Classical design and Romantic expression of the Quartet in A-minor, Op. 51, No. 2. Their reading was sedate at first, and certain key details were perfunctorily executed. By the Finale, however, they warmed considerably, finishing in a lusty fashion.