INTERMEZZO CHAMBER CONCERT SERIES, Vieve Gore Concert Hall, Westminster College, Aug. 3
Among all the many string quartets Haydn wrote, the early ones are the least known — mainly because they're rarely performed.
So when one does pop up on a concert, it's a nice treat and a welcome change from the popular late quartets.
That happened Monday at the Intermezzo Chamber Music Series concert, where a quartet of Utah Symphony colleagues (violinists Lun Jiang and Joseph Evans, violist David Porter and cellist Pegsoon Whang) played Haydn's op. 20, no. 5 in F minor.
Even though it's in the relatively dark key of F minor, the work isn't somber or brooding as one might expect (or as one finds in his symphonies from that period that are in minor keys). Instead, it's quite lyrical. And the foursome emphasized the melodicism of the work with its fluid and polished playing.
There is, however, a quiet intensity that flows through the quartet, and the players captured that very well. They brought an energy to their reading that made it vibrant and dynamic and infinitely expressive.
The Haydn, which opened the concert, was paired with Mozart's Divertimento in E flat major, K. 563.
An 18th-century divertimento was entertainment music — it served as background music for parties. And Mozart certainly wrote his share of such light works. But the K. 563 is anything but light or unpretentious. It's a work of substance, and in its development of themes and its scope it's on par with his string quintets and late string quartets.
The three players (Jiang, Porter and Whang) brought out the intricate interplay among the instruments and captured the finely shaded dynamics of the score. Their playing was fluid and seamless and wonderfully lyrical.
The Adagio of this six-movement work was particularly well-crafted and played. The trio captured the dreamy character of the music with its beautifully phrased and expressive playing.
After intermission, Vedrana Subotic came onstage and played a movement from one of Haydn's piano sonatas before being joined by Jiang, Porter and Whang in Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor, op. 25, which closed the concert.
Brahms' early works are driven by an inner restlessness, and the foursome captured this easily. Their playing was impassioned and fueled by an intense earnestness that created a tension that was electrifying.
The opening movement flowed with energy and fervor, while the Intermezzo movement was quiet and driven. The Andante was richly textured, warm and gorgeously expressive. But it's the "Gypsy" finale that makes this quartet work. It's a perpetual motion of dizzying power and relentless drive, and the four players gave an electrifying performance that brought the audience to its feet.