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MUSIC REVIEW : Miami String Quartet Passionate at Ambassador

October 26, 1994|HERBERT GLASS

The local debut of the Miami String Quartet at Ambassador Auditorium on Monday provided the keenest kind of listening pleasure, in which seldom-heard masterpieces are delivered with passion and aplomb by gifted, intelligent young musicians.

First, the Floridians--violinists Felicia Moye and Cathy Meng Robinson, violist Chauncey Patterson, cellist Keith Robinson--ventured the formal perfection of the Quartet in C from Haydn's Opus 20, with its striking harmonies and contrapuntal complexities, in a reading of tremendous verve, faultless balances and centered intonation, all within the context of bright, sometimes fiercely projectile ensemble sonority.

To close, there was the String Quartet in A, Opus 41, No. 3, of Schumann--all heart and a formal shambles--which inspired an uncommonly successful display of why one tolerates Schumann's convolutions: the deeply affecting melodies with which this work is overpopulated.

Expansive when the composer demanded, taut when he needed all the help he could get, the Miami String Quartet exhibited this flawed gem in the most appealing light possible.

There was an outright novelty on the program,too: the world premiere of "Whispers of Mortality," written for these performers by Bruce Adolphe, about whom the program notes offered not a single biographical fact beyond the year of his birth, 1955.

The piece is hardly off-putting, rather, a collection of familiar devices, including jagged, Janacek-like alternations of narrow intervals and octave-plus leaps and a schematic layout derived from Bartok's Fourth Quartet, down to the central, cello-dominated slow movement from which the work seems to flow outward.

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