Gustav Mahler figures among the vandals; his orchestration for full string complement of Beethoven's Opus 95 Quartet was broadcast on KUSC-FM sometime last week, which already put me in an adversarial mood toward LACO's Schubert, to which Mahler's miscreance is also attached. Kahane made a few wise alterations; every so often, especially in the sublime set of variations that forms the slow movement, he reduced his forces to the sound of the original quartet. Still, the effect overall was that of hearing one of the greatest of chamber-music masterworks, whose intense dramatic language is the defining force for music in this intimate medium, expanded into something still beautiful in substance but fatally ordinary in sound.
A similar fate awaits Anton Bruckner's one major chamber work, the String Quintet in F minor, which, in Hans Stadlmair's version for full string orchestra, fills a fair portion of Daniel Harding's Music Center debut program on February 25. Can it be that a bright and fast-rising 22-year-old conductor would choose such an encumbered steed as this to storm the boundaries of fame? Whoever made the choice should be tied down and made to listen to it. All three performances.