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A new quartet ends the season for Valley Classical Concerts

05.10.17
Calidore String Quartet
Daily Hampshire Gazette

The final concert of the 2016-2017 season of Valley Classical Concerts was given at Sage Hall of Smith College on May 6, by the Calidore Quartet, an ensemble new to the Pioneer Valley. Its members have been playing together since 2010, and they are still young (by the standards of string quartets), mature, and totally at one with their music. The audience listened in absolute silence (a rare thing as winter ends) and gave them a well-deserved standing ovation at the concert’s end.

The first part of the program was devoted to Dvorak and Ligeti, composers whose lives were a century apart. Dvorak’s “American” Quartet, composed at Spillville, Iowa in 1893, is the best known of his chamber works and therefore demands perfection from its performers. From the moments when the viola (Jeremy Berry) announced the theme of the first movement, it was clear that an evening of great music-making lay ahead. The music passed from one instrument to another seamlessly, while the two inner instruments – always the heart of a quartet – were constantly supportive. In this quartet the cello (Estelle Choi) has several beautiful solos, which she played movingly, yet never forgetting her place in the ensemble.

Ms. Choi introduced Ligeti’s first quartet, composed in 1953-1954 with the title “Metamorphoses Nocturnes.” Indeed, the quartet was based on a simple six-note theme, which Ligeti reshaped in many of its over 700 possible forms. The Communist regime of Horvath was at its most repressive in the 1950s and performance of the music of Bartok was forbidden, denying Ligeti any chance to hear the music of Hungary’s most important composer. Yet he managed to obtain the score of Bartok’s first string quartet and “hear” it in his head, so that Bartok strongly influenced him. After the sunny optimism of Dvorak’s quartet the austere, yet rich, sounds of Ligeti’s music brought home to the audience the extent to which the world had changed in the sixty years between the two works. Ligeti’s music was played with sympathy and passion, and the ensuing Intermission was needed.
 
Read the rest of the review here