Any real judgment of this performance is going to have to wait until further concerts in this series enable me to calibrate the dread question, "Well, what are the horrible Oshman acoustics going to be like this year?" This year the sponsors have bought their own acoustic shell, which looks a lot less effective than the borrowed one they were using last year, and the rub is whether it sounds a lot less effective too.
But the more I think about it, the more I conclude that the sonic inadequacies of last night's concert may be placed securely at the thing's feet. Surely that dry high-treble strongly-textured shiny and bony sound is not something a string quartet would cultivate on purpose? It leeched any warm beauty out of Schubert's string quintet (Jean-Michel Fonteneau, second cellist), and since the Tokyo is not an ensemble that makes much out of the inner structural logic of the works anyway, the result was deadly. Bartok's Third was even worse. It sounded like a rap DJ scratching and rubbing the needle over an LP. Only the Haydn (Op. 77/1) survived the experience.
Next month, Stephen Hough, a pianist I already know, is coming to play the Moonlight Sonata and some Scriabin, and if those sound like this, then I'll know that Oshman is back to being seriously scrod.