Chilingirian Quartet, Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

It is tricky to write about a concert when told from the platform that the musicians are donating their services for free. As it is for a good cause the Pharos Trust it feels churlish to go into critical mode. But when a group of good players are put together "giving their services", chances are that rehearsal time will be brief. And, alas, this is what struck me in this concert: put fine chamber music players together and something respectable will turn out, but it is unlikely to be exceptional. Chamber music is about blend of sound and blend of approach after significant periods working together.

In the name of the Pharos Trust, a Cypriot-based cultural and educational foundation, the Cypriot-Armenian violinist Levon Chilingirian has gathered players associated with the annual festivals held in Nicosia and Kouklia. Fielding no less than three pianists, three violinists, two viola players and three cellists, no two works had the same line-up.

Beginning with a Boccherini quintet, the Chilingirian Quartet, plus the cellist David Geringas, dispatched a different C major quintet from the one advertised a pity, because the "Night Watch through the streets of Madrid" is the stronger piece. In Boccherini's 18th-century patter, differences in approach are not too noticeable; not so in Brahms. Martino Tirimo joined Yuri Zhislin, Alexander Zemtsov and Alexander Chaushian in Op 60 No 3 in C minor. This is music of great subtlety and passion, but the four were no team. Individually, there were good moments Chaushian in full throttle in the slow movement; Tirimo wonderfully articulating his notes in the final movement but Zhislin remained outside.

In Rachmaninov's Trio elegiaque in G minor, the pianist Ashley Wass seemed underpowered, and again Zhislin lacked passion.

Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A major brought Chilingirian back to lead, but with none of his regular players. The Swedish pianist Bengt Forsberg proved the best in his league, together with Geringas, Zemstov and Zhislin, but sloppy rhythmic detail undermined the force of this extraordinary piece, reinforcing the feeling that this concert was undercooked. But a capacity crowd greatly enjoyed it.

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