In performance: Daedalus Quartet
Daedalus Quartet dazzles in new Dillon, offers standard standards
by Robert Battey
The Daedalus Quartet, going for nine years now, has a solid reputation: residencies at Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, a stint with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, international tours and a recording made through Bridge Records. Friday evening at the Barns at Wolf Trap, the group presented a world premiere by Lawrence Dillon, bookended by two classical masterpieces.
(read more after the jump)
Dillon's "Quartet No. 4: The Infinite Sphere" is a work of jewel-like craftsmanship, in arch form, consisting of seven movements alternating between rounds and rondos. The tonal language is not dissonant, but not conservative either; Dillon seems to reach across several centuries for inspiration, somewhat like Benjamin Britten. The centerpiece -- a "circular fugue" -- had each new voice enter at a faster tempo than the previous, and indeed, Dillon's control of time was a conspicuously imaginative element throughout. It is a fine addition to the repertoire, rendered with great skill by its dedicatees.
In the standards, however, the Daedalus was unremarkable. Beethoven's "Harp" quartet suffered from a narrow expressive and dynamic range, with pale accents and note-endings that were often forgotten about. The scherzo featured a dazzling tempo, but the cost was that the players never achieved a true fortissimo.
Mozart's K. 589 quartet was also small-toned, and the pulse was often lost at transition points and for much of the Larghetto. This is a seasoned, highly capable group, but in this unforgiving repertoire, it still has a ways to go.
-- Robert Battey
January 18, 2010; 6:15 AM ET
Categories: local reviews
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