In performance: Parker Quartet
On Sunday evening at Rockville’s Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, the Parker Quartet polished its growing reputation for chiseled technique in modern repertoire. Formed in 2002, this young foursome has already enjoyed a decorated career, most recently receiving the Cleveland Quartet Award from Chamber Music America.
Dissonant contemporary music prompted the group’s best playing, in keeping with their well-received recording of the Ligeti string quartets, released by Naxos last year. (Ligeti was the best part of their October concert at the Freer, as was a Kurtág quartet on their 2008 concert at the Library of Congress.) This time it was Hindemith’s fourth string quartet, in which the musicians soared on the fugal theme of the first movement and snarled over the hammered rhythms of the second. Each player had a suave solo turn in the muted serenade of the third movement, with only the wild keening of the fourth sending the ensemble’s wheels somewhat off the track. Haydn’s “Rider” Quartet (op. 74/3) glowed with golden warmth in the placid second movement’s hymn-like chords, while the galloping motifs of the first pulsed with vitality.
Neither of these fine performances could have been predicted from the roughshod Brahms G minor string quintet that opened the program. Overzealous, sawing muscularity from the lower instruments, which sounded like little thought had been given to what lines were most important, forced a brittle tone and sour intonation from the first violin in loud passages. Guest artist Kim Kashkashian, playing second viola to her former student Jessica Bodner – and even righting a score slipping from the stand at one point – was sadly lost in the texture.
---Charles T. Downey
Charles T. Downey
| December 8, 2010; 11:59 PM ET
Categories: Washington, local reviews
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