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Abramyan Quartet performs tonight

Subtler than a symphony, chamber music has a classy, highbrow connotation.

Maybe that's because chamber music was originally written to be performed in the private homes of aristocrats and patrons of the arts.It is also the "after hours" music of orchestra musicians, who often get together to play quartets and quintets purely for their own enjoyment. String players like chamber music because it gives them an expressive voice and the chance to "play off" one another.

Like bebop jazz, chamber music is for connoisseurs.

The Abramyan String Quartet will perform in concert Sunday at 5 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church, 12 N. C Street. Admission is $10 for adults; students and children are admitted free.

Cellist John Eckstein, violist Scott Lewis and violinist Lynette Stewart will be joined by Eva Gruesser, of the Lark Quartet, and oboist Robert Stephenson. Gruesser is substituting for Gerald Elias, who is in Italy.

The quartet will play Benjamin Britton's "Phantasy for Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello."

This unusual piece begins with a sort of cello march, followed by an extended selection in the upper strings and a rhapsodic, modal section in the oboe. The piece then resumes the march at the end.

"Listeners will get a visual picture of something specific," Stephensen said.

The program will also include the Borodin String Quartet No. 2 and Schubert's String Quartet in D, No. 96.