Clarinetist Larry Combs, one of the Chicago Symphony's finest, teams up with the estimable Vermeer Quartet in an indisputably great showcase for his instrument: Brahms's Clarinet Quintet. Alternately lush and passionate, somber and meditative, the quintet Brahms wrote late in life for a virtuoso friend is German Romanticism at its ripest. Suffice it to say that only a veteran like Combs can dispatch with ease the tough technical passages that mark the piece's mood swings. The other works in this North Park College-sponsored chamber affair are impressive too: Mozart's Quartet no. 19 in C, K. 465, the last in the set dedicated to his mentor, Haydn, is famous for the playful yet disquieting moments of dissonance in the opening movement that supposedly emulate rustic village-band playing. Almost equally renowned is Shostakovich's Quartet no. 8 (1960), one of the Soviet composer's more interesting and harrowing emotional journeys; it's slyly dedicated to the memory of the victims of fascism and World War II. Tonight, 8:15 PM, lecture hall auditorium, North Park College, Foster and Kedzie; 583-2700, ext. 4300.