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Music Reviews : Bartok Quartet At Ennis-brown House

January 21, 1986|HERBERT GLASS

The Ennis-Brown House, Frank Lloyd Wright's mock-Mayan temple in the hills of Hollywood, was the setting for a concert Sunday afternoon by the Bartok String Quartet of Budapest, presented by the Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary's College.

One of the world's senior quartets, and one of its best, the Bartok ensemble commenced with a slightly scrambled introduction to Mozart's "Dissonant" Quartet, K. 465, eventually settling into the sort of nimble, lightly vibratoed Mozart interpretation associated with these artists: mechanically irreproachable, undistorted by Romantic mannerisms, yet uninformed by Classical procedures.

The program concluded with a model presentation of the buoyant C-major "Rasumovsky" Quartet of Beethoven, played lightly and lyrically, with a blessed absence of the intimations of life-and-death struggle many less-experienced ensembles deem necessary for all but the earliest Beethoven.

You don't have to be Hungarian to play the music of Bela Bartok well, but it never seems to be a drawback, as evidenced again on this occasion by the composer's namesake ensemble, which projected the Fifth Quartet with uncommon delicacy of articulation (particularly in the unearthly twitterings and twangings of the fourth movement) and radiant tone to complement the score's often overemphasized stinging harshness.

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