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It wasn't just a blast of Canadian weather the Toronto-based St. Lawrence Quartet brought with them to the University of Utah Sunday - they also brought a blast of Canadian music.

The piece in question? The Third String Quartet of Ontario's R. Murray Schafer, a name that sounds like it might have come from "Amadeus." Not the music, however, written in 1981 and very much a product of this century.Indeed, one might have been forgiven for thinking it came from 10 or 15 years earlier, given its '60s-style spatial effects and vocal interjections from the performers.

Thus the first movement began with cellist Marina Hoover alone onstage, her mournful buzzing being joined by violist Lesley Robertson, entering from the left, and eventually - reading their music from pasteups along the walls - first violinist Geoff Nuttall and second violinist Barry Shiffman, from respectively the left and right rear of the auditorium.

In addition to the quadraphonic effects, the violins also added a lyric element. But that dissolved amid the shouts and screams - in Schafer's words, "rather like certain Oriental gymnastic exercises" - and instrumental assaults of the second movement, marked Allegro energico.

After which the karate chops gave way to the lightly broken unison melody of the finale, with its varied balances and stresses. The Oriental influence was still felt, however, only here in the form of some chantlike humming before the first violin took the melody offstage with him over the quiet chording of his colleagues.

Gimmicky? Without question. But it also contains some real music, as well as providing a provocative showcase for this youthful foursome. Witness the bravos afterward, as well as the people who crowded around the music stands afterward for a look at the score.

They certainly didn't do that with the Schubert quartet that opened the program, his Quartet No. 9 in G minor. Yet that, too, was performed with sensitivity and intensity, so that each phrase seemed to come alive. And that was as true of the gracefully accented exchanges between violin and cello in the slow movement as it was the vigorously Mozartean minuet and lightly metallic Presto, here with a mercurial nip in the air.

Nor was Dvorak's "American" Quartet, which followed intermission, slow to take wing, though I wouldn't have minded a quicker tempo for the second subject or a little less body English from the men, who at times seemed almost to be playing to one another, with the women off to the side.

Nuttall in particular had a hard time keeping his feet on the floor, especially during his lyrically pained violin solos. Nor was intonation always right on the money, though this improved following some re-tuning.

Again, though, the music's heart beat strongly, whether in the gently rocking accompaniment in the Lento or the impassioned Finale, here vibrantly intense. Which brought more cheers and a standing ovation - and an encore in the form of the Cavatina from Beethoven's Op. 130 Quartet - before consigning us once again to the non-musical elements, considerably less gentle and heartwarming.