East and West Meet in Music@Menlo’s “Budapest”

Calidore String Quartet
San Francisco Classical Voice

By David Bratman

“The Calidore players…made the prickly modernist sing...Even though I’ve heard this group before, such transparency and utter clarity in performance hardly seemed credible to the ear. The music was full of sudden shifts of character or style exposed by this clarity. Each shift brought out an entirely different expression, while maintaining both a unity of structure and a sound world of high treble voices. The famous “barrel-organ” passage in Bartók’s finale, which here appeared with jaunty dissonance, was just one of the variety of sound panels which flashed by. The jumpy rhythms the composer heard in peasant music were all over the work. Playing chords in high-speed unison, the Calidore formed a mad machine, then broke apart buzzing into hurried cross-conversations, huge gulping glissandos, and ghostly dances. A few less high-treble sounds occurred in the softness of slower solo passages and in a rarely-heard Calidore specialty which emerged in Bartók’s Adagio molto, religiously reverberant chordal phrases.”

Read the full review.