One week, three exciting chamber music concerts

01.25.18
Calidore String Quartet
Washington Post

Excellent chamber music is on offer every season in Washington, but this month, in less than a week, three relatively new, high-profile ensembles, from Amsterdam, Munich and Los Angeles, made auspicious Washington debuts.

Finally, Wednesday, as part of the Fortas series in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, came the most anticipated of all: violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry and cellist Estelle Choi, the Calidore String Quartet. They are part of a groundswell of superbly trained, vibrant young string quartets, think Dover, Brooklyn Rider, Attacca and others, whose uncompromising standards have invigorated the classical music scene in recent years.

Calidore’s program included Haydn’s “Lark” Quartet, which seemed like a walk in rural Hungary at dawn; “Officium breve in Memoriam Andreae Szervánszky,” the third quartet of György Kurtág, which could have been the discovery of 15 perfectly formed tiny sand dollars during a moonlight walk on the beach; and Brahms’s Quartet in C minor.

Four more individual musicians are unimaginable, yet these speak, breathe, think and feel as one. Having heard them, I’m convinced that, if placed in different rooms but within earshot, they could begin and end a complicated late Beethoven quartet in perfect accord. Their delivery is relaxed and perfectly natural, creating a soundscape that the audience beheld in breathless silence. They seem to love their instruments, rather than forcing them or tearing them up. But make no mistake, this simplicity of utterance conveys a complete, complex, and powerful message. The grateful audience left enriched and, I suspect, a little more human than it arrived. The Calidore Quartet is something else.

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