Yo-Yo Ma & friends

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Kremer, Ma, Kashkashian Mix three world-class string players with a dash each of Beethoven, Krenek, Hindemith, and Mozart, and what do you have?

It depends on the size of the serving bowl.

Last Friday's recipe for great music - Gidon Kremer, Yo-Yo Ma, and Kim Kash-kashian - was short one ingredient for truly memorable trio playing: a smaller hall.

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As they wended their virtuosic way through the repertoire - two old chestnuts interspersed with distinctly more modern fare - much of the nuance, subtlety, and practiced unity was was lost into Symphony Hall's cavernous corners. Parlor intimacy would have made this a blockbluster. The distance to the stage made it lackluster.

The musicians were doing their jobs: Kremer led the trio and played magnificently, perhaps even overpowering the others - though first violins are meant to sing. His gnarled playing style is uncomfortable to watch, but he never so much as misses a note by a quarter tone. Yo-Yo Ma is the opposite of Kremer in stage poise: He smiles, is relaxed, and his soulful playing seems effortless. Kim Kashkashian has her hands full making the alto range audible. Her few moments in the spotlight show she is keeping up. Otherwise, only occasionally could you distinguish her instrument's voice from the others. Partly, this goes with the viola territory. Perhaps another reason is her detached stage presence.

The high points of the evening were the pizzicato third movement of the Hindemith (Massig schnelle: viertel, Op. 34) and Mozart after the break (Divertimento in E flat K. 563).

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