For the Colorado String Quartet, which appeared in a Coleman Concert at Beckman Auditorium at Caltech on Sunday afternoon, the ambition was justified. The ensemble, which has been in its current configuration since 1982, exhibited unusual tautness and polish, the sort that normally takes years to develop.

The four musicians brought apparently boundless enthusiasm to the Shostakovich work, capitalizing on its unrelenting drive and myriad changes in mood and dynamics.

The elegiac Adagio, in particular, afforded violinists Julie Rosenfeld and Deborah Redding, violist Francesca Martin and cellist Sharon Prater an opportunity to demonstrate their expressive lyricism and their ability to sculpt entire movements artfully.

The emotionalism of Beethoven's quartet does not surface as readily, and the ensemble playing seemed less communicative here. The four nonetheless gave a probing account of this very introspective work and provided the listener ample food for musical thought.

The players opened the program with an elegant and thoughtful reading of Haydn's Quartet in D, Opus 20, No. 4.

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