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MUSIC REVIEWS

Vellingers Show Off Quartet Skills

February 07, 1996|HERBERT GLASS

The youthful Vellinger String Quartet, currently on its first American tour, displayed all the right stuff in its handsomely constructed program Sunday at Schoenberg Hall on the UCLA campus.

Haydn's delectably chaotic Quartet in B flat, Op. 71, No. 1, went with tremendous rhythmic dash and flawless mechanics. The subsequent Mendelssohn Quartet in E flat, Op. 12, disclosed the British group's ability to produce a richer, darker sonority within the context of a splendid range of instrumental color.

The second half of the program offered a pair of Purcell's grave, eerily chromatic Fantasias, delivered with stunning effect, as if on viols, without vibrato and with tremendous bow pressure to create deeply chiseled lines: a canny prelude to Britten's deep and spectacularly theatrical Second Quartet, written in 1945 to honor the 250th anniversary of Purcell's death.

This is music requiring extraordinary individual virtuosity as well as the keenest ensemble balances and concentration.

The Vellingers--violinists Stephanie Gonley and Harvey de Souza, violist James Boyd, cellist Sally Pendlebury--showed themselves to be equal to Britten's fierce demands, in a reading compounded of rhetorical power, glowing tone and the digging-deep into both the composer's psyche and the structural elements of his work that distinguish the most potent recreative artists.

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