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Angeles String Quartet Says Goodbye

TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Strong feelings marked the local farewell concert by the 13-year-old Angeles String Quartet, given, appropriately, in the place that has been one of the ensemble’s home bases, Founders Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

Sunday afternoon, a large crowd, attentive and rapt, heard the quartet’s last Southern California performance, a program of works by Bernard Herrmann, Debussy and, of course, Haydn.

That “of course” has been earned--the ensemble has specialized over the years in works by the father of all string quartets, making a landmark 21-CD recording of Haydn’s complete works that was released earlier this year. Indeed, the finale ultimo by the Angeles group will be a Haydn performance at Esterhaza Palace in Austria on May 1.

It made the greatest sense, then, that this valedictory program should end with Haydn’s last-completed quartet, the one in F, Opus 77, No. 2, and that the single encore should be the great Adagio from Opus 76, No. 6.

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The playing lived up to the music. Violinists Kathleen Lenski and Sara Parkins, violist Brian Dembow and cellist Stephen Erdody have by now internalized their deep musical rapport--they think alike, they listen to each other with an almost psychic intensity; they concentrate on forward motion and on the cohesion of each movement within its context. The Haydn finale combined a radiant vision with an effortless technical perfection.

Before that, Debussy’s Quartet emerged vehement, articulate and elegantly laid out. The program opener, Hermann’s “Echoes,” showed the famous film composer creating vignettes of melancholy, handsome cameos of bleakness.


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