A Quartet Explores What It Means to Be Resilient

17/10/2018

Prokofiev, Golijov, Mendelssohn: Calidore String Quartet, SubCulture, New York City. 11.10.2018. (BH)

Calidore String Quartet (c) Marco Borggreve

Prokofiev – String Quartet No.2 Op.92 (movements I and III) (1941)
GolijovTenebrae (2000)
Mendelssohn – String Quartet No.6 Op.80 (1847)

We live in a golden age for string quartets—a reference to ensembles, rather than compositions. Thinking of world-class groups, one could name 50 or more with very little trouble. (And the flood of groups is causing an uptick in commissions, so there’s likely an argument that we are in a golden age for compositions as well.)

Now another ensemble has to be considered among this tightly squeezed field. Based in New York, the Calidore String Quartet are violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi. After its founding in 2010, six years later the group won the inaugural $100,000 grand prize in the M-Prize International Chamber Music Competition (based in Ann Arbor, MI), the largest prize for chamber music in the world. And this past summer they made their debut at the BBC Proms.

This week the group released its fourth recording, Resilience (on Signum), and in scarcely an hour at SubCulture, they gave a taste of the new project to an enthusiastic audience. The title refers to the group’s thoughts on what it means to be resilient and ‘our purpose as musicians during this time of social upheaval.’ They began with a teaser, two movements of Prokofiev’s Second String Quartet, which showed the group’s assurance with striking contrasts. Alternately jaunty and savage, the effects included some perfectly executed squeaks.

From 2000, Osvaldo Golijov’s Tenebrae made a reverent interlude. The composer wrote it after two incidents close together: a visit to Israel (observing strife) and to New York’s Hayden Planetarium (observing the fragile size of the Earth). As in the Prokofiev, the foursome showed keen timbral variety, finding some opportunities for grinding textures among the passionate legatos.

To conclude came Mendelssohn’s sixth and final quartet, composed in sorrow after the death of his beloved sister, Fanny. But the result is anything but sad; ‘rage’ might be the overwhelming emotion — at least, in the Calidore’s hands. The first movement was notable for its fury and sheer speed, with no loss of precision, and the second was still rhythmically pointed but more graceful, with expert pizzicatos. The Adagio had the red-blooded sweep of a movie score, with somber echoes of the Golijov earlier. And the finale — at times vengeful — boasted some strategically placed trills among the storm.

The new album includes everything here (including the Prokofiev middle Adagio), plus Janáček’s first quartet, the ‘Kreutzer Sonata’. If the recording is comparable to what this admirable group displayed last week, the loud ovations after the concert were completely justified.

Bruce Hodges

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 29 April – 11 May 2019 in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Met: Live in HD in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Carnegie Hall 2019-2020 Season Highlights __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera’s 2019 Performances of Stephen Storace’s Gli sposi malcontenti __________________________________
  • NEW! Nevill Holt Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019 Aldeburgh Festival and Snape Proms in June and August __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR PIETARI INKINEN IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR MAXIM EMELYANYCHEV IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month