At its second and final appearance at the Olympic Arts Festival last summer, the Colorado String Quartet joined the Sequoia Quartet for a rousing rendition of Mendelssohn's bubbly Octet. On that occasion, the players--Julie Rosenfeld and Deborah Redding, violins; Francesca Martin, viola, and Sharon Prater, cello--were brightly attired in red.

Monday night, as part of the Gold Medal series at Ambassador Auditorium, the ensemble was bedecked--appropriately, as it turned out--in more somber dress, since the music on this outing proved quite serious and fiendishly difficult.

Any program that lists Beethoven's Opus 132 and Bartok's Second is bound to test every resource at a string quartet's disposal. Even the opening piece was not your typical early Haydn throwaway, but the "Dissonant" Quartet of Mozart.

Throughout, the ensemble proved more than equal to the challenging agenda, often soaring triumphantly. Most successful was its playing of Bartok. Though the mood of this score often shifts apparently in mid-measure, the Colorado Quartet kept pace with a poised and polished reading. The devilish fast movement was tossed off with all the head-bobbing and body-swaying of the Juilliard Quartet at its most uninhibited. And with as much virtuosity.

Beethoven's Opus 132 became a bit disjointed in the early goings, but the players seemed to draw inspiration from the heavenly Adagio. Here was a sensitive, finely detailed performance that carried through into the exuberant finale. One may have have detected a missed note or two on occasion; an insignificant byproduct of energetic, committed playing.

The program began with those mystical, forward-looking opening measures of Mozart's "Dissonant" Quartet. The piece served to demonstrate the group's seamless ensemble work, a rich, full-bodied tone and, even this early in an undoubtedly promising career, maturity.

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