Julliard quartet plays UVM

UVM’s Lane Series hosted a performance by the Calder String Quartet at the UVM Recital Hall Friday evening. The group consisted of young musicians who played together throughout their time as undergraduates at the University of Southern California and who are now in residence at the Julliard School. The Lane Series performance was one of several activities for the group in their two days in Burlington, which included an informal concert and dialogue session in the lobby of the Honors College, and performances at the Fletcher Free Library and Radio Bean. The Friday evening performance by the 26-year-old musicians revealed impeccable technique matched with an energy and intensity made all the more impressive with their seemingly effortless delivery. Closely tuned in to one another, the musicians played and thought as one, making frequent eye contact and leaning towards one another in duet passages. Their stage presence was unassuming and free of theatrics, as they let the intensity and excitement of the music take center stage. Their program included works from three major periods of the string quartet repertoire, beginning with Haydn’s “String Quartet in C, Op. 54, No.2.” The bright opening movement contrasted with the dark and weighty slower movements, which provided an effective transition to Bartok’s “String Quartet No. 6,” composed in Hungary in the shadow of World War II. Somber passages in the low register vied with a haunting and hollow tone in the upper in this work that featured the quartet as equal partners. The second and third movements were dark and biting-an anxious and disfigured march followed by a grotesque burlesque, each preceded by a broodingly slow introduction. The group communicated all of the intensity of Bartok’s music without exaggeration, so that the despairing quality of the music spoke for itself. The final work was Brahms’ “String Quartet in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1,” featuring a fine sense of ensemble without a hint of fatigue from these musicians who had spent the past two days giving four concerts and a radio performance. The diversity of styles among the three pieces was complemented by marked contrast within each work. The uncharacteristic dark and ominous moments of the Haydn prepared the despairing moods of the Bartok, while the Brahms combined moments of exuberance with a more somber sensibility. The program was a highly effective showcase both of the variety of the string quartet repertoire and of the versatility and finely tuned musicianship of the young and talented Calder Quartet.